During his successful run for the Executive Mansion, Gov. Tim Kaine effectively touted his religious faith traditionally viewed as Republican territory to explain his opposition to the death penalty.
At a wedding at which he officiated for one of his campaign staffers last month, Kaine, who is Catholic, also displayed his knack for religious tolerance.
Mo Elleithee was Kaine's communications director in the 2005 race against former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore. Mo is short for Mohamad. He was raised Muslim, a fact which presented some challenges when he and his future bride, Talya Stein, who is Jewish, began planning their wedding.
"It was a little bit about the Camp David accords," quips Kaine's current communication director, Kevin Hall.
Performing wedding ceremonies is not part of the governor's standard portfolio of executive powers. Anyone in Virginia can apply for a one-day, $35 permit and perform a wedding. Kaine had to do the same.
"We wanted someone who would be able to navigate the different backgrounds and traditions and still make it very spiritual," Elleithee says.
Kaine interviewed Elleithee and Stein separately prior to the wedding and during the ceremony explained what he thought each meant to the other.
Elleithee says he was pleased with the governor's homily: "It was a reflection on how two different people from different backgrounds could come together and draw on each other's faith to create something new."
The wedding, which included 150 guests, was held at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria.
"We had a tower of cupcakes instead of a wedding cake half chocolate, half vanilla and homemade baklava," Elleithee says. His mother baked enough of the sweet pastry "in case people wanted seconds."
Afterward the couple escaped to Costa Rica for a week, out of cell phone and BlackBerry range. It was a welcome escape for the two, both of whom now work for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign. SClick here for more News and Features