Retired reverend Dr. Samuel Nuon has kept a close eye on the rise of his former roommate, vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine.
Nuon met Kaine at a leadership training course at the Winter Green Retreat in Virginia in 1991 and the pair ended up sharing a room.
“I know him very well. He is a man who pays attention to his people and is known for his breathtaking speeches,” he said.
“He was so simple that I had to take a bed and he was late so he had to sleep on a couch,” he recalled with a smile.
Kaine first took office in 1994, serving as a city council member before becoming mayor of Richmond. In 2002 he joined the governor’s office and became governor in 2006. He was elected to the senate in 2012.
The 58 year old was selected as the Democrat’s presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s running mate ahead of the November 8 election.
“I believe that he will be a good candidate for [the] Cambodian community and all other communities in the U.S.,” Nuon said.
At Wat Khmer Samacky in south Richmond, Kaine needs no introduction.
“He was a very good governor,” said Keo Sum, a Richmond resident. “He contributed a great deal to Virginia’s economy and social work. When he was our representative he always found ways to help people in Virginia.”
Kaine is seen as a good pick for Clinton to win in swing states such as Virginia.
Despite having previously voted Republican, San Oeun said he would likely vote for the Democrats in November, partly due to Kaine.
“I normally voted for the Republican [party], but according to the current political situation I will probably change my mind to vote Democrat,” he said.
“First we want peace, secondly [a strong] economy so that people can live at eat, and finally social issues,” he said.
Samoeun Por, who has been living in Richmond for 35 years, said the community wanted to see a strong focus on health issues, “to make sure that medicine prices are not too expensive”.
Richmond is home to about 1,000 Khmer-Americans, with about 5,000 in the state altogether.
Hok Hak, a member of the temple committee, said Kaine would need to do more to ensure the vote of Khmer-Americans in the state, adding: “If Mr. Tim Kaine has a compassion and willingness to help our Cambodian community we will embrace and welcome whatever he wants.”