Tim Kaine: “Donald Trump as commander-in-chief scares me to death”

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said Sunday that the idea of Donald Trump as commander in chief “scares [him] to death.”

“Here’s a guy who praises dictators like Vladimir Putin. Here’s a guy who thinks a solution to global security is for more nations to get nuclear weapons,” Kaine said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “But most painfully to me and other military families, here’s a guy who says the American military is a disaster.”

Kaine, whose son Nat is an infantry officer currently deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps, said he would not trust Trump with his son’s life. 

“I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Kaine said.

But he stopped short of saying he would tell his son to leave the military under a Trump presidency, noting that he’s “a very independent guy.”

“He’s going to make his own determination. And my other two children are equally independent,” Kaine added. “But Donald Trump has demonstrated by his trashing the military, by his belief that we need more nukes, but especially by his praise of dictators, even encouraging the Russians to commit cyber espionage against the United States. He’s demonstrated that he’s just -- he shouldn’t be within 10 time zones of being commander-in-chief.”

The comments about Trump as commander-in-chief came in response to a question about Democrat Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness, especially in light of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ suggestion that the issue is problematic for her. Kaine responded that he trusts Clinton, so much so that he trusts her with his son’s life while he’s in harm’s way.

“I would trust Hillary Clinton with Nat’s life, with my son’s life,” he said. “And the reason I would, is because she’s had that searing experience of being at the World Trade Center as they were searching survivors, because she’s been our secretary of state, because she was part of a national security team that revived the hunt and wiped Osama bin Laden off the face of the Earth.”

Asked whether he joined the ticket in an effort to help Clinton appear more trustworthy, Kaine demurred, noting that Clinton pitched the job to him as a “governing partner.”

“I’ll tell you why Hillary asked me to be on the ticket. She was pretty plain about it,” he said. “She said that the test of a Clinton administration is not going to be a bill signing, or a passage of something. It’s going to be whether a worker can get more skills, an employer can hire more people, a classroom is a better learning environment for a kid or for a teacher.  It’s fundamentally she wants a governing partner for our positive agenda.”

Speaking about the explosion in New York City Saturday night, which injured dozens, Kaine said we can “be thankful for” the fact that no fatalities have been reported, and said intelligence-sharing is key to stopping future “lone wolf” attacks in the United States.

“We don’t know what the motive behind these attacks are yet, but we’re digging into it,” Kaine said. “But the way you stop lone wolf attacks is through smart sharing of intelligence. You have to have strong alliances, for example, with NATO allies and share intelligence about people.  People who might be traveling from one country to the next.”

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.