He said he let people die because he promised voters he would respect the law providing for capital punishment. I’m sure there’s more to his rationale, but that’s what he said.
The bathtub example is one of the first attempts by an ethicist to unpack whether there’s a moral difference between killing and letting die. It matters in Kaine’s case because his lawyer tells us the governor felt some relief knowing he was only letting people die, not actually killing them. If Rachels is right, then Kaine’s inaction is tantamount to pulling the switch, unless there’s some other complicating factor. (Check out his essay on that if you’re interested in his argument; skip ahead to his third point.) Subsequent philosophers say those factors might be inseparable from how the moral scale is balanced, and so I talked about that.
Lots of challenging questions. If Kaine is thinking in these kinds of terms, about competing duties to self, God, electorate and conscience, then I think that speaks well of the kind of leader he is.