WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton named U.S. Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate on Friday, making a safe choice that will help her present the Democratic ticket as a steady alternative to the unpredictable campaign of Republican presidential rival Donald Trump.
The selection of Kaine, a self-described "boring" Virginian with wide governing experience and a reputation for low-key competence, could appeal to independents and moderates but could also anger liberal groups that object to his advocacy for an Asian free-trade pact.
But the Spanish-speaking former Virginia governor and Richmond mayor fits Clinton's long-stated criteria that the vice presidential choice be a capable partner who is ready to take over the presidency if necessary.
See reactions on social media:
Social Reactions of Democratic VP pick Tim Kaine
Social Reactions of Democratic VP pick Tim Kaine
Just got off the phone with Hillary. I’m honored to be her running mate. Can’t wait to hit the trail tomorrow in Miami!
.@TimKaine has a big heart and showed it as a civil rights lawyer, a teacher, a mayor, a governor, and a senator. https://t.co/dT4qZ8hwL8
KAINE IS ABLE!!!
Shout out to a fellow @TheDemocrats Chair today — working families have a champion in @timkaine. Can't wait for more of them to meet you.
Great to see @HillaryClinton has chosen Sen. @TimKaine to be her running mate, such a strong ticket to lead us to victory this fall!
Trying to count the ways I hate @timkaine. Drawing a blank. Congrats to a good man and a good friend.
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Clinton made the announcement via Twitter and a text message to supporters after the first day of a two-day campaign swing in Florida. She called Kaine to tell him about 40 minutes before the announcement, and called President Barack Obama shortly after Kaine.
"I'm thrilled to tell you this first: I've chosen Sen. Tim Kaine as my running mate. Welcome him to my team," she said in her text message.
Kaine, 58, edged out two other finalists - Cory Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, according to a Democratic source familiar with the discussions.
Clinton also bypassed candidates who would have generated more excitement among liberal and Hispanic activists, including progressive favorite U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and two Hispanic members of Obama's Cabinet, Julian Castro and Thomas Perez.
See more of Kaine through the years:
Senator Tim Kaine through his career
Senator Tim Kaine through his career
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) react during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia, U.S., July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
DATE:10/06/2001 SLUG:ME/KAINE CREDIT:TRACY A WOODWARD/TWP Candidate for VA Lt Gov. Tim Kaine at Herndon, VA., Homecoming Parade. Along parade route through the town of Herndon; Kaine (center of photo-blue shirt and jacket) shakes hands with Herndon High School student- Nick Palatiello (cq) 18 yrs old. The kids are on one of the Herndon High School floats. Original Filename: MEKAINE2.jpg ORG XMIT: M0110071405302067 (Photo by Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
SLUG: ME/RICHMOND The second day of the Virginia general assembly. Pictured, Lt. Governor Tim Kaine holds a press conference in the statehouse to introduce his legislative staffers and answer questions from the press. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
SLUG: ME/INAUG DATE: 01/14/2006 CREDIT: Bill O'Leary Governor Tim Kaine is inaugurated at the colonial statehouse in Williamsburg, VA. Pictured, the Governor elect gives a thumbs up signal to the crowd during a long ovation upon his arrival. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine laughs at a remark by President George W. Bush about his wife's needle work while visiting the Jamestown Settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, Sunday, May 13, 2007. (Photo by Dave Bowman/Newport News Daily Press/MCT via Getty Images)
CHESTER, VA - AUGUST 21: Presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (R) discusses economy with people as Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (L) looks on during a campaign stop at John Tyler Community College August 21, 2008 in Chester, Virginia. The media have been reported that Obama will announce who is his running mate in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
DENVER - AUGUST 28: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine walks off stage on day four of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at Invesco Field at Mile High August 28, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is the first African-American to be officially nominated as a candidate for U.S. president by a major party. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 08: Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and President elect Barack Obama speak at a news conference at the Democratic National Committee headquarters to announce Kaine as the new chair of the DNC on January 8, 2009. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - NOVEMBER 04: Virginia Gov. and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine answers questions during a press conference at the State Capitol complex November 4, 2009 in Richmond, Virginia. Kaine discussed the results of yesterday's election results during the press conference. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: DNC Chairman Tim Kaine (L) participates in a conference call with Rev. Regena Thomas, Director of Faith and Constituency Outreach in the Chairman's office on September 30, 2010. This was a 5:00 pm Conference call with the National Baptist Convention Leadership. (Photo by Tracy A Woodward/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, JULY 13: Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine plays to the crowd during a campaign stop with President Barack Obama at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Friday, July 13, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MCLEAN, VA - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Kaine in encircled by media in the media room of the Capitol One Conference Center following his U.S. Senatorial debate against George Allen on Thursday, September 20, 2012, in McLean, VA. The former Virginia governor Kaine is in a heated run against Allen, another former Virginia governor, for the US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jim Webb. In addition to being a former Virginia governor, Kaine, a Democrat , is a former mayor of Richmond and a Virginia Lt. governor. Kaine's wife, Holton, has been active in the campaign, making appearances around the state on her husband's behalf. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
FAIRFAX, VA - SEPTEMBER 25: U.S. Senate Democratic candidate and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine answers reporters' questions during a news conference at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station 40 September 25, 2012 in Fairfax, Virginia. The International Association of Fire Fighters union announced its endorsement of Kaine in his race against another former Virginia governor and former U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - November 6 : Former Governor of Virginia, Tim Kanie makes his acceptance speech after winning the Virginia Senate seat from Former Governor George Allen at Kaine's election night party at the Richmond Marriott on November 6, 2012. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: (L-R) Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Anne Holton, and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) attend the Inaugural Youth Ball hosted by OurTime.org at Donald W. Reynolds Center on January 19, 2013 in Washington, United States. (Photo by Michael Kovac/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 31: Junior Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) looks up to think for a moment during a staff meeting in his office on Capitol Hill Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US Senator Tim Kaine,D-Virginia, listens to witnesses June 5, 2014 during hearings held by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee On Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony on 'Development in Ukraine.' AFP PHOTO / Karen BEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 9: Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks with a reporter as he arrives for the Senate Democrats' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) appears in pre taped interview on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Friday June 24, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and US Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, wave during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia, on July 14, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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The former secretary of state will be formally nominated as the party's presidential candidate for the Nov. 8 election at next week's Democratic convention in Philadelphia. She leads Trump in many opinion polls.
Clinton's choice of a running mate could give her campaign momentum heading into the convention, as the fight for the White House begins a more than three-month push to the finish.
Clinton acknowledged in an interview earlier this week that even Kaine admits he is boring, and said she did not mind.
"I love that about him," she told Charlie Rose of CBS News and PBS. "He's never lost an election. He was a world-class mayor, governor and senator and is one of the most highly respected senators I know."
Kaine's first appearance with Clinton will be on Saturday at an event in Miami, a campaign aide said.
"NEW OPENING TO ATTACK DEMOCRATS"
Liberal groups, which had pressured Clinton not to pick Kaine because of his support for fast-track authority for the White House to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, were dismayed by the choice.
Critics of the Asia free-trade deal, including Trump and Clinton's Democratic primary rival Bernie Sanders, say it would be unfair to U.S. workers and kill jobs. Clinton praised the deal when she was secretary of state, but has since distanced herself from it.
"Republicans will run hard against Democrats on trade this year. Unfortunately, since Tim Kainevoted to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Republicans now have a new opening to attack Democrats on this economic populist issue," said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Hispanic activists also may be annoyed with the pick of Kaine given that Latino candidates were again passed over.
But Kaine could help Clinton in Virginia, a heavily contested swing state, and choosing Kaine will not cost Democrats a seat in the Senate, where Republicans now hold a majority, at 54 seats. Virginia's Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton friend and ally, will name a replacement for Kaine if he and Clinton win the White House.
Kaine has good relations with senators from the opposing party, according to senior Senate Republican congressional aides. One aide speculated Kaine would be effective in reaching out to congressional Republicans if he becomes vice president, a role that Vice President Joe Biden has played for Obama.
Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, has been a leading voice calling for a formal authorization of war against the Islamic State militant group. He played an important role in securing congressional review of the 2015 international deal on Iran's nuclear program, although he eventually backed it.
He has a track-record of backing liberal causes such as ending across-the-board automatic budget cuts and providing a pathway to citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants.
Kaine, a Catholic who became fluent in Spanish speaker while serving as a missionary in Honduras, has expressed personal opposition to abortion, but has a public record in support of abortion rights.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker in Florida; Editing by Leslie Adler)