The primary purpose of Tim Kaine’s introduction speech after being named the vice presidential candidate was that he was a contrast with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Because it was an introductory speech, Kaine had to introduce himself, his background, and his values to the people of the country. At the same time, he discussed the things that Donald Trump stands for and wants, and by doing so, he was able to draw the contrast between himself and his vision, and that of Donald Trump. Kaine did so in a way that was simple, palatable, and accessible, allowing him to draw in the average viewer who might just be looking to vote for a good man rather than voting for a politician.
Tim Kaine used overriding values to discuss the modern politics of the day. When he was introduced in the campaign, it was likely that many voters were tired of seeing political attack ads and other relics of dirty politics. With this in mind, Kaine’s speech was effective because it focused more on values rather than attacks on the issues. He talked about himself as an optimist rather than being a pessimist. In doing so, Kaine suggested that he was hopeful about the future of the country, again drawing a contrast between himself and Donald Trump. Kaine made it very clear that Trump sees the country as a hellscape from which there is no refuge, but Kaine himself is an optimist, so he sees the possibility of making progress after the election. His focus on values, including the things that motivated him to get into politics and the things that motivated him to marry his wife, allowed him to draw a contrast not only between himself and Donald Trump but between himself and the political process itself.
Kaine made himself accessible to all voters by talking about things they could relate to and by making an effort to speak in multiple languages, thus allowing him to draw another contrast between himself and Donald Trump. Kaine’s everyman quality was on display when he talked about sending his kids to school or his doubts about his own abilities when he got out of college and went to a foreign country. On top of that, Kaine spoke in Spanish at some points in the speech, showing that he was not only willing to be the vice president for people who speak Spanish, but that he was willing to bridge the gap between himself and those people. This, of course, presented a contrast between him and Donald Trump because of the language that Trump often uses to describe people of color and people of Mexican heritage. If the goal for Kaine was to ensure that these people thought Kaine would respect them, then using this kind of language skill was a means of providing more accessibility in the messaging.
The tone of the speech was soft, allowing him to build trust with listeners. While many political speeches are harsh and attacking, he focused more on illustrating his own values. This allowed Kaine to posit himself as the alter-ego to many politicians, and especially to the politicians who had been so harsh with one another in this election.
Some might argue that Kaine’s speech was not as effective because it failed to deal with many of the common issues of the day. Some might also argue that Kaine’s speech was boring. Truly, Kaine did not offer many jokes or much entertainment value, which may be a point working against him in a time where people expect interesting. However, vice presidents are not expected to be entertaining, and typically are expected only not to mess things up. In that, Kaine succeeded with his introduction speech. In the end, he tied everything together, introducing himself in a way that made people understand just how he contrasted with Donald Trump, and thus adding to the argument for Hillary Clinton as an alternative to Trump.