Clinton chooses Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate

WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton has chosen Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (Virginia) as her vice presidential running mate, completing a Democratic ticket that prizes experience and traditional notions of public service in a political year dominated by Republican rival Donald Trump’s unorthodox, highly personal brand of leadership.

Kaine, 58, a former Virginia governor, Richmond mayor and Democratic National Committee chairman, was chosen after a search that included riskier and more unconventional candidates who offered greater appeal to the party’s liberal base.

He was a longtime favorite to become Clinton’s running mate, however, in part because of the political and personal attributes she considers well-suited to the governing partnership she seeks – and in part because of the calculation that the experience of a Clinton-Kaine ticket would outgun Trump’s outsider bombast.

Kaine is not known for his charisma on the campaign trail; he has called himself the “happy senator” and even “boring” – and Clinton laughingly agreed in a PBS interview earlier this week.

“I love that about him,” she said Monday.

“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,” she said.

Along with his image as a low-key workhorse, Kaine brings legislative experience in the Senate and executive experience as a popular if unremarkable governor. He comes from a battleground state, albeit one widely considered winnable for Clinton whether Kaine is on the ticket or not.

Clinton has said that her most important criterion was the ability to step into the presidency at any moment. She also sought a running mate who would be able to work with Republicans to advance an ambitious legislative agenda that includes immigration reform and new gun control measures, her campaign said.

Kaine’s affable, regular-guy presence may also help Clinton balance the perception of Clinton as remote, chilly and privileged. She is among the least-liked major party candidates in decades, according to public opinion polls, behind only Trump.

Clinton’s choice comes as she and the Democratic Party prepare for a four-day convention that will showcase her resume and experience. It’s a counterpoint to what Democrats say are Trump’s lack of credentials.

With Kaine, Clinton hopes to focus the election even more squarely on the question of preparation and ability. Kaine comes from the same moderate wing of the party and shares Clinton’s governing philosophy. They share a basic ideology that government can do good and that the United States should be both a moral actor and an engaged diplomatic and military presence overseas.

She is also counting on him to be a partisan attack dog somewhat in the model of Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump focused intensely on Clinton during his speech Thursday accepting the Republican nomination, calling her corrupt and incompetent and accusing her of making the country less safe as secretary of state.

Even before it was announced, Kaine’s pick was panned by several liberal groups, including some with ties to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, the runner-up in the Democratic primaries.

In recent television interviews, Sanders has praised Kaine, but some of his supporters have sharply questioned his progressive bona fides, pointing to Kaine’s support of trade deals and regulations favorable to big banks.

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the activist network Democracy for America, which backed Sanders in the primaries, said Thursday that it should be “disqualifying” for any potential Democratic vice-presidential nominee to “help banks dodge consumer protection standards.”

And on Friday, Norman Solomon, the coordinator of a group billing itself as the Bernie Delegates Network, called Kaine “a loyal servant of oligarchy.”

“If Clinton has reached out to Bernie supporters, it appears that she has done so to stick triangulating thumbs in their eyes,” said Solomon, whose organization claims to represent hundreds of Sanders delegates attending the convention in Philadelphia but is not coordinating with the campaign.

Kaine was in New England Friday afternoon attending a pair of fundraisers, one in Boston to benefit his Senate campaign account and another in Rhode Island on behalf of Sen. Jack Reed, a fellow Democrat.

Kaine did not share anything about the status of the search Friday with reporters who staked out his home in Richmond, Virginia, or caught up with him at Logan Airport in Boston.

Clinton, meanwhile, was making several campaign stops in Florida on Friday. She began in Orlando, a city which is still reeling from a terror attack at a gay nightclub that left 49 people dead.

She was held a rally in Tampa later in the day. On Saturday, she is expected to appear at another rally at Florida International University in Miami. For now, her public schedule is clear after that until a Monday appearance in Charlotte.

Clinton told Democrats that she wanted to choose someone who would work to elect other Democrats and raise money for Democrats nationally. Kaine has a track record of doing both, and is a solid speaker who will perform well in debates and interviews, said Daniel Palazzolo, chairman of the University of Richmond’s Political Science Department.

“He has a broad range of governing experience, most importantly. I don’t think that should be understated, especially this year,” against Trump, who has never held elective office and promises to bring a businessman’s perspective to the White House.

Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, a choice that added to the Republican ticket someone with experience and a résumé with parallels to Kaine’s.

Representing a state with a large military presence and defense industry has burnished Kaine’s national security experience, and he serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as the Foreign Relations Committee. He won admiration within the military and jolted Democrats when he pushed for congressional consideration of a new war authorization for the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, he joined Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, to seek a new three-year authorization for military force. The effort stalled, but it raised Kaine’s stature.

Kaine speaks Spanish, but his selection represents a disappointment for Hispanics and others who had hoped that Clinton, the first woman to head a major-party ticket, would choose the first major-party Latino running mate. Hispanics are a key constituency for Democrats this year, and Clinton’s election strategy has long been built around engaging women and Hispanics.

Two Latinos who were passed over serve in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet – Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and Housing Secretary Julián Castro. Obama had discussed those candidates with Clinton as she made her choice, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. Earnest also volunteered that Obama thinks highly of Kaine.

The president considers Kaine “one of his as well,” even though he did not serve in the Cabinet.

“Senator Kaine is one of the first public officials to announce a public endorsement of Senator Obama. Senator Kaine served as the chair of the DNC during President Obama’s first year in office. And Senator Kaine is somebody that the president deeply respects, and – I think it’s been publicly reported – was even considered himself as a running mate back in 2008,” Earnest said.

Kaine is Roman Catholic and took a break from Harvard Law School to serve as a missionary in Honduras in the early 1980s. He said he holds “traditional Catholic” views on abortion, but he maintains that he strongly supports abortion rights. He has taken a similar stand on the death penalty, saying he opposes it for personal and religious reasons – but promising as governor to uphold the law of Virginia, where capital punishment is legal.

Kaine’s emphasis on faith in his personal life appealed to Clinton, a Methodist, and was discussed during conversations the two held leading up to his selection, a Democrat with ties to both of them said.

“I do what I do for spiritual reasons,” Kaine said in a recent C-SPAN interview.

Republicans are likely to seize on Kaine’s somewhat mixed message on abortion as well as his unsuccessful attempt as governor to raise transportation taxes.

But he has few other known personal or political liabilities, a safe and steady choice whose departure from the Senate would not cause an immediate loss for Democrats. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) would name a replacement ahead of a special election in 2017. The winner would have to run again for a full six-year term the following year.

Kaine was given an audition of sorts on the trail last week, when he joined Clinton at a campaign stop in a gymnasium at a community college in Northern Virginia.

The two were warmly received by the crowd and had an easy rapport, though the atmosphere was not nearly as electric it had been the month before when Clinton was joined at a rally in Ohio by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, a darling of the party’s left wing.

Early in his remarks, Kaine broke into Spanish, explaining how the meaning of the slogan “Ready for Hillary” takes on even more significance in that language than in English.

Kaine later asked the crowd three questions about the choice voters face in the election against Trump: whether they want a “you’re hired” president or a “you’re fired” president; whether they want a “trash-talk” president or a “bridge-building” president; and whether they want a “me-first” or a “kids-and-families-first” president.

Clinton, who was perched on a stool nearby, broke into a big smile as Kaine ticked off hat he described as crucial differences between Clinton and Trump.

“I really love what Tim said,” Clinton told the crowd when she took the microphone. “I like the three questions he posed. . . . What Tim said is really worth considering.”

Clinton also praised the work of Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, the state education secretary in Virginia.

The Washington Post’s Abby Phillip in Orlando contributed to this report.

112 fugitives across Southern California arrested in ICE operation

The knock at Carlos David Martin Ojeda’s home finally came, minutes after sunrise.

Ojeda, a 46-year-old undocumented immigrant and convicted sex offender who had been released from prison to the streets, opened the door of his mobile home in Chino at 6 a.m. Tuesday, July 19, and found an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer on the porch. As other officers watched with rifles at the ready, Ojeda was handcuffed and placed in a black SUV.

The process of returning Ojeda to Mexico had begun.

“I think he knew that at some point he’d get caught,” said David Marin, deputy Los Angeles field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations.

The arrest was one of 112 in a four-day period in a six-county area that included Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles, during a special operation in which ICE sought to call attention to its mission by rounding up some of what it considered the most serious offenders.

They included a 64-year-old Mexican man arrested in unincorporated Riverside County near Hemet who was convicted in 1996 of attempting to murder a peace officer. A little more than half had felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons violations and assault. The others had convictions for serious or multiple misdemeanors.

Ojeda was convicted in 2014 of lewd and lascivious acts on a girl under age 14 and served about two years of a four-year sentence.

If Ojeda does not object to his deportation when he sees an immigration judge in about 10 days, he could be on a bus from the detention center in Adelanto to Mexico shortly afterward. If he asks for and is granted bail, Ojeda could remain in the U.S. for three to four more years before his case is resolved.

“My greatest fear, and what keeps me up at night other than keeping these officers safe, is that we will not be able to get to these individuals in time,” Marin said. “Is that person going to commit some other crime?”

Like many aspects of immigration and deportation, it’s complicated.

IMMIGRATION DEBATE

In November 2014, President Barack Obama, under pressure from critics who said immigration policy was tearing apart mixed families of legal and illegal residents, refocused deportation efforts.

The stated targets would include undocumented immigrants with convictions for endangering national security, murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, trafficking in drugs or weapons, or three or more misdemeanors or serious misdemeanors such as drunken driving.

Ojeda has one of those mixed families. His wife appeared at the door with him, but agents did not ask about her immigration status, Marin said. Ojeda has three children, ages 21, 19 and 12, who are U.S. citizens. That meant, Marin said, Ojeda had likely been in the U.S. for at least two decades.

“One of the tough things we have to do is handcuff Dad because of the impression it leaves on the children,” Marin said, noting that officers prefer to arrest suspects outside homes, as was the case with Ojeda.

Luz Gallegos is community programs director for TODEC Legal Center in Perris, which advocates for immigrant communities. Her organization seeks a balance in immigration policy that will protect families.

“We’re in favor of keeping our country safe, and we understand about people with certain crimes, but what worries us is when (immigration officers) go after certain people when there are family members that are mixed-status family members,” Gallegos said. “The kids are the ones that get impacted. That is why we keep on advocating for a solution to our immigration system that is long overdue.”

Moreno Valley resident Sabine Durden takes a harder line on the issue. Her son, Dominic, was killed in a 2012 traffic collision caused by an undocumented immigrant who was still in the country despite convictions for DUI and robbery. Juan Zacarias Tzun, a Guatemalan national, was eventually deported after being convicted of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the crash.

Durden said she agrees “1,000 percent” with the ICE arrests.

“They are saving American lives. But it shouldn’t stop there, because being here illegally is still against the law,” Durden said Wednesday from Cleveland, where she pressed for stricter enforcement of immigration laws in a speech Monday at the Republican National Convention.

Marin acknowledged that officers are keenly aware of the split opinion on immigration policy.

“Regardless of the larger debate, this office is contributing by getting these people out of these communities,” he said.

It’s not always easy.

BARRIERS TO DEPORTATION

The arrests happen just about every day, Marin said. Some take place after a day or two of surveillance. For the more serious offenders, such as Ojeda, reconnaissance can last a couple of weeks to determine when the person comes and goes and whether he is likely to be armed.

Ojeda’s was typical. Officers staked out his home in unmarked vehicles starting about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Two people who left in separate cars were pulled over and questioned, and it was determined that Ojeda was home. So officers waited in the dark, hoping he’d emerge.

When he didn’t, an officer knocked on Ojeda’s door at 6 a.m. Ojeda identified himself, and he was arrested without incident. Officers let him put on shoes and grab a jacket for the ride to the Homeland Security Investigations office in San Bernardino, where Ojeda was fingerprinted and allowed to make phone calls to family or the Mexican consulate.

Apprehending a person who is already in custody can be difficult.

ICE officers, when their deportation targets were refocused in 2014, were ordered to cease requesting that detention facilities hold a person for 48 hours after their anticipated release. Now, officers ask only to be notified of the release.

In San Bernardino County, sheriff’s Cpl. Ruben Perez said, no one there actually picks up a phone and dials ICE unless there’s a warrant for the person’s arrest. Instead, the arrestee’s fingerprints and the nature of the charges are electronically delivered to federal authorities. It’s up to them, then, to anticipate when the person will be released.

Perez said that’s typical policy in Southern California law enforcement.

And that’s one of several sources of frustration for ICE, Marin said.

“A lot of law enforcement agencies won’t event notify us,” including the Los Angeles Police Department, Marin added. “We can’t be at every single jail waiting for someone to be released.”

Even when a suspect is arrested, he or she has the right to deportation and bail hearings and appeals of a judge’s final decision.

An additional hurdle is that most countries require the deportee to have travel documents. About two dozen nations, which ICE described in congressional testimony as “recalcitrant,” drag their feet in providing the documents or fail to offer them at all.

In the past three years, according to ICE statistics, more than 87,000 undocumented immigrants have had to be released back into the U.S. because they lacked the proper papers.

“Sadly, ICE records indicate a number of these aliens have gone on to commit additional crimes while in the United States,” ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this month.

Contact the writer: brokos@pe.com or 951-368-9569

Computer problem halts Southwest Airlines flights nationwide, including at John Wayne

SANTA ANA – Some Southwest Airlines flights going out of John Wayne Airport Wednesday were grounded because the airline was dealing with a system-wide computer problem, an airport official said.

At least some Southwest flights weren’t come in, either, as the malfunction has affected the airline nationwide, including at Los Angeles International Airport.

It is unknown how many Southwest flights arrive to and depart from John Wayne, because the airport can’t comment on Southwest’s operations, said Deanne Thompson, the airport’s spokeswoman.

A statement on Southwest’s website said: “We are aware and investigating current issues with our systems. We will keep you posted as we have more information to share.”

More to come.