RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia's well-traveled governor says leaving home without a security detail, as South Carolina's disgraced governor did, is unthinkable for a chief executive.
Tim Kaine has traveled extensively the past five months as the Democratic National Committee chairman. He said Thursday in his monthly radio show on WRVA in Richmond and the Virginia News Network that he always has his Executive Protection Unit in tow, whether it's state business, or DNC or personal travel.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford didn't have his security detail with him last week when he was unreachable for several days. His staff initially said he had taken some time away to recharge after a tough legislative session. Later, they said he had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trial.
Sanford admitted Wednesday he flew to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he has been having an affair.
Kaine says it's vital to have security nearby with ways to communicate if he should be inaccessible when an emergency occurs.
"Everybody always knows where I am," Kaine said. "I'm an Appalachian Trail guy, so every spring break that's what I do ... but I always have security with me and the reason they're there isn't necessarily to protect me from a bear. They're there mostly if I have to make a decision so they can hand me a sat (satellite) phone and I can make a decision."
Virginia Republicans have attacked Kaine for his out-of-state trips on behalf of the DNC to speak to Democratic gatherings in cities across the country.
While the DNC has covered the costs of Kaine's travel for the party, the state GOP notes the security detail assigned to him has been paid for by taxpayers.
Kaine said Thursday the DNC will reimburse the state for the time and travel of the specialized security officers assigned to the governor by the Virginia State Police. Kaine said the bill so far is about $10,000.
"I asked my security detail to start saving all the bills - air fare and hotel - when they go with me, and the deal was ... at six months and then at the year, we will reimburse the state. It's modest amounts," he said. "We started saving those records from the first day."
In 2001, Gov. Jim Gilmore similarly traveled the country on partisan business when he was picked by President George W. Bush to head the Republican National Committee.
Democrats made sport that year of Gilmore's frequent absences on RNC business, particularly as a dispute between the governor and the GOP-run state Senate stymied the legislature's duty to amend an unbalanced budget for the first time.
Kaine said he travels about one day a week outside Virginia. He said he often works weekends at DNC's Washington, D.C., headquarters.
The day after Obama's election in November, Kaine dismissed the prospect of becoming national party chair, calling it as a position incompatible with being governor.
But in January, after Obama appealed to him personally to take the job, Kaine agreed, saying he would limit his party duties to free time, mostly weekends, and handle much of the work remotely by Internet and phone.
Kaine said in his radio interview that he sometimes handles Virginia business while traveling for the DNC, both by phone "or even have meetings that are state-related."
"I work all the time on state business. You can't get away from it when you're governor," he said.