RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Soon after Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine accepted Hillary Clinton's offer to be her running mate, he called Terry McAuliffe to say thanks.
Kaine had reason to be grateful: it's likely no one lobbied as hard for Kaine as the colorful Virginia governor, a Clinton pal and former Democratic fundraiser.
And with one friend atop the ticket and another as her running mate, McAuliffe could find himself with two direct lines to the White House should the Clinton-Kaine ticket win on Election Day.
McAuliffe led the effort to raise money for Bill Clinton's re-election bid, vacationed with the couple after the Monica Lewinsky scandal and secured a $1.35 million mortgage on their house in Chappaqua, New York, after they left the White House swamped by legal debts. He traveled the world with Bill Clinton as a board member for the Clinton Global Initiative, his post-presidential foundation, and helped manage Hillary Clinton's 2008 run for president.
"I've known Hillary and her husband Bill for more than half my life," he said in a speech to the Democratic convention Tuesday, delivered just after she officially became their party's nominee. "I love this woman."
He remains a confidante, golf partner and loyal advocate of both Bill and Hillary. In recent months, he's hosted fundraisers and campaigned across the country for Clinton. He's rumored to be interested in a Cabinet post, perhaps Commerce secretary, should she win.
At times, McAuliffe's deep ties to the Clintons can be problematic. In an interview Tuesday with Politico, he said he believes Clinton will support the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — with some tweaks — if she's elected president. The agreement is fiercely opposed by many in the Democratic Party.
McAuliffe's spokesman later said the governor was expressing what he wanted Clinton to do as president. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta responded on Twitter, saying, "Love Gov. McAuliffe, but he got this one flat wrong. Hillary opposes TPP BEFORE and AFTER the election. Period. Full stop."
Republicans see the McAuliffe-Clinton relationship as ripe for abuse, particularly after McAuliffe was investigated by the FBI over whether political donations to his gubernatorial campaign violated the law. He has not been charged with any crime.
"Terry may be the most powerful unimprisoned governor in the country," said Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.
The governor has played key roles in Kaine's political rise. As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, McAuliffe helped provide a hefty $5 million to Kaine's campaign for governor.
Kaine returned the favor, campaigning and helping McAuliffe raise money for his gubernatorial bid. McAuliffe also appointed Kaine's wife, Anne Holton, to be his secretary of education. Holton resigned on Monday to devote herself to her husband's run for vice president.
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Lerer reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed from Philadelphia.