Selected E-mails from Tim Kaine to Campaign HQ


Illustration by Mike Reddy

 “I just read a great biography of [The Replacements] called Trouble Boys, by Bob Mehr. One of my sons and I are trading it around since [he's] a huge Replacements fan—he actually lives in Minneapolis. It’s a cool book, but it’s also a sad book, because they all had their own demons from how they came up.”—Tim Kaine, Rolling Stone

“I’ve been on a string of music books, so I read Elvis Costello’s autobiography. I read this book by Bob Mehr—who worked for the Memphis Appeal—called Trouble Boys, about the Replacements, a band that I really love.”
Tim Kaine, The New Yorker

August 16, 2016
Just checking in. I’m assuming HRC didn’t get to the playlist I sent over, as she made no mention of it when we spoke after the rally. I know she’s busy this week, but if she has some time to listen, it would be really cool. I think it’s important for people to understand where the ’Mats were coming from—they didn’t just burst out of the gate with Let It Be. I know the first half of the playlist sounds fairly rough, especially the live bootlegs, where the band seems to be tied together with gossamer. But it pays off to listen all the way through.

One important thing: Note that I included three non-Replacements songs, which I think will help put the band in context. These are by Big Star, the New York Dolls, and (of course) Hüsker Dü.

The campaign is going well.

August 28, 2016
Thanks for sending the briefing books. As you mentioned, it’s a ton of material—door stoppers for every room in the house—but debate prep is obviously important. Just so we’re on the same page, I probably won’t be able to dive into them for a week or so. I’m currently re-reading the Mehr book, which, naturally, sent me down a rabbit hole reading through a lot of his old stuff in the Appeal. Also—sorry to brag—a friend who works in publishing is getting me an advance copy of the Springsteen memoir. It’s about 500 pages, so it goes without saying that you won’t be hearing from me for a few days!

The campaign has been great. But did you get my memo about the music at our rallies? I’m worried that some of it may be seen as cliché.

September 15, 2016
It was so thoughtful of HRC to send over a new round of briefing books, along with her lovely note. Her letter gives me a new appreciation of how much this material means to her, and also how eager she is that I read it in advance of my debate. To return her thoughtful gesture, I am sending her a notable book that she might find of use: Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad, who worked at Rolling Stone and also wrote a book on Nirvana. Our Band gives a vivid glimpse of underground bands like the ’Mats, Beat Happening, and Mudhoney, who laid the groundwork for the more commercially viable alternative rock of the ’90s. (If she wishes to explore this further, the documentary The Year Punk Broke is also strong on the period.)

October 2, 2016
Had a little brainstorm I wanted to run by you: What do you think of me representing the campaign next week at Desert Trip, a.k.a. “Oldchella”? The festival, as I’m sure you know, features the Stones, Dylan, McCartney, Neil Young (playing with a relatively new backing group, Promise of the Real), Roger Waters, and the Who. It could be a nice opportunity for me to connect with Baby Boomer voters, and also help us in California. I’ve taken the liberty of reaching out to the festival’s promoters, who have reserved some VIP tickets. We also may get a chance for face-time with Paul McCartney (fingers crossed) and entrance to a secret set he is rumored to be playing in a tiny bar (!). Just need HQ to sign off on canceling my events that week in Pennsylvania, and we’re good to go.

While I have you: Has there been any word on incorporating those Dream Syndicate songs at our rallies?

October 18, 2016
Such remarkable news about Dylan’s Nobel Prize! All these whiners with the temerity to complain really get my goat. Come on, people! Let’s see Don DeLillo write “Chimes of Freedom.” Honestly, don’t get me started! It’s also great news about the polls. I’m sure that by now HRC has had time to revisit that playlist and read my little “liner notes.” I know it’s an obvious choice, but I have had “Unsatisfied” on repeat these last few days, and I wouldn’t be surprised if HRC does, too. To quote Sir Westerberg: “Everything you dream of is right in front of you / And everything is a lie / Look me in the eye and tell me that I’m satisfied.” I know she wasn’t keen on using the song in a commercial, but with victory so close, it certainly resonates on a personal level. Maybe we can keep it in mind for the inauguration?