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Tim Kaine’s law school roommate: “He’s the best person I have ever met”

Charles Hirschhorn
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Charles Hirschhorn, vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s roommate while Kaine was in law school, figured eventually reporters were going to get around to asking him about Kaine. So he wrote a heartfelt Facebook post about his 35-year friendship with his onetime roommate that concludes like this: “He’s the best person I have ever met.”

If you thought Kaine’s onetime roommate might know some dark secrets to disrupt Kaine’s lovable-dad internet persona, you are wrong. The post is a litany of anecdotes about Kaine being a good friend, a barbecue connoisseur who once staged a taste test of Kansas City barbecue sauce, and a devoted and serious public servant.

It’s a nice thing for anyone to have written about them, let alone a politician. Hirschhorn’s post never mentions Kaine’s policies or political beliefs, other than to attest to his bipartisanship. But it’s remarkable in the 2016 election because it is nearly impossible to imagine anyone writing something like this about Donald Trump.

Full Disclosure: My Roommate is Running for VP Thirty-five years ago I shared a 4 bedroom rental house with two law...

Posted by Charles Hirschhorn on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It’s true that Kaine seems to be an unusually nice guy, particularly in the world of politics. But most politicians running for office, regardless of party, can find people they’re close to who will tell nice stories about them. Mitt Romney devoted an entire day of the Republican National Convention to stories about what a great guy he was. Hillary Clinton has had the same circle of friends since grade school, and her former co-workers and associates say she’s an attentive, caring person to work with.

Trump, meanwhile, seems to have unusually few close friends. He has at least one — Tom Barrack, the CEO of Colony Capital, has hosted fundraisers for Trump and spoke on his behalf at the RNC — but even the people he’s close to are more likely to talk about his shrewd business ethic than about kind gestures he’s made to them.

There are more anecdotes about Trump’s cruelty during the campaign alone — mocking disabled reporters, tweeting unflattering photos of Heidi Cruz, making fat jokes about Chris Christie — than there are about genuinely kind things Trump has done throughout his entire life. Given that Trump’s character has been the source of so many of Clinton’s attacks, it’s telling that he hasn’t brought forward more character witnesses to attest that he’s really a great guy in private.

Even Barrack’s most humanizing anecdote about Trump’s kindness was hardly overwhelming: Trump brought Barrack and Barrack’s son to a boxing match with Mike Tyson and paid attention to the son the whole time, even telling him Barrack was a hero.

That’s a nice thing to do. It pales in comparison with Hirschhorn’s anecdote about his own son: “When my oldest son was old enough to travel alone on an airplane, I bought him a ticket to spend 2 weeks in Richmond, living with the Kaine family,” Hirschhorn wrote. “They are the role models I choose for my children.”

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