Clinton, Kaine Share Anti-Trump Commitment

Clinton, Kaine Share Anti-Trump Commitment
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ANNANDALE, Va. -- Tim Kaine spoke Spanish Thursday, bashed Donald Trump, and hailed Hillary Clinton as a leader who has shown America her character and commitment over decades.

Standing together on a community college stage, the pair said they were of like mind about throttling Trump in November. Whether the presumptive Democratic nominee and the former Virginia governor, now senator, will share a presidential ticket in a week or 10 days was impossible to discern.

Clinton’s campaign spokespeople, mingling with media at the back of the gymnasium, offered few clues when peppered with questions. Her aides did not appear to be especially alert to the duo’s public chemistry or combined effect on an audience that needed little encouragement.

Kaine, 58, is on Clinton’s short list as a potential vice presidential pick because on paper he is seen as safe and sensible – an amplification of the candidate, not a challenge to her brand.

Kaine appeared relaxed on turf he knew well. Having navigated Virginia’s shifting political dynamics for more than 20 years as Richmond’s mayor, as governor and as the state’s junior senator for nearly four years, Kaine waved to friends in the crowd and saluted his wife, Anne Holton, the state’s education secretary. Perched somewhat awkwardly on stools and speaking without notes, Clinton and Kaine addressed union workers, senior citizens, college students and campaign volunteers inside a college gym.

“Do you want a `you’re fired’ president, or a `you’re hired’ president?” the senator asked. “Donald Trump: He’s a `you’re fired’ guy.”

Kaine outlined the contrasts that have become the pillars of Clinton’s campaign. “Do you want a trash-talker president, or a bridge-builder president?” he asked the audience. “Do you want a me-first president, or a kids-and-families-first president?”

Kaine, who is a decade younger than Clinton and won his first election in Virginia in 1994 when she was first lady, addressed her as “Secretary Clinton” throughout their appearance together. Clinton this summer also appeared with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and on Tuesday captured the endorsement of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Kaine encouraged Clinton to bump fists at the end, and she patted the senator on the shoulder, listening with a polite smile to his private encouragement as the music roared. Kaine gently guided the candidate to some stairs and a rope line so they could shake hands with enthusiastic supporters.

“Estamos listos para Hillary,” Kaine told the crowd, explaining that being “ready” for Hillary in Spanish translates to being prepared. “It means you’re ready to get on the battlefield,” the senator said. “You’re ready to fight.”

Kaine, who considers President Obama a friend and kindred spirit, as a young man was a missionary in Honduras, where he became fluent in Spanish. He easily navigates media interviews entirely in Spanish. A graduate of Harvard Law School and a devout Catholic, he married the daughter of a former Virginia governor and began his career representing clients who were racially discriminated against in rental housing. (Kaine managed to weave in a few references to his personal biography during his 16-minute warm-up for Clinton.)

To defeat Trump and his running mate, Clinton and her eventual vice presidential partner hope to turn out younger voters, Latinos, African-Americans, and women, especially in a dozen battleground states, including Virginia. Not known as an attack dog on the stump, or a darling of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, Kaine made sure to cover those bases Thursday.

“Donald Trump trash-talks women, people with disabilities, he trash-talks Latinos,” the senator said. “If you’re a Latino, he’s going to trash-talk you.”

Kaine, in a cool tone, said he gets especially “steamed” when Trump denigrates the U.S. military. “He says repeatedly, the American military is a disaster,” he told the audience as Clinton nodded her head, leaning against her wooden stool. “I don’t want somebody who trash-talks our troops and treats them with disrespect and contempt,” he continued.

Clinton said she especially appreciated some of the anti-Trump lines Kaine used. And then she repeated them. She imitated Trump, lowering her voice and pursing her lips to mock the former reality TV celebrity: “I have a plan and I’m not going to tell you what it is. You’ll love it,” she said to laughter.

This week, Clinton leads Trump by 3.5 points in the Old Dominion, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Nationally, the race has tightened heading into the party conventions that are back-to-back beginning next week in Cleveland, followed by the Democratic gathering in Philadelphia. Despite the bruising Clinton sustained last week when FBI Director James Comey concluded she had been “extremely careless” with classified material while serving as secretary of state, she leads Trump in states that are expected to decide the presidency in November.

The real estate mogul, making his first important decision as the presumptive GOP nominee heading into the Republican convention, had announced he would name his running mate Friday morning in New York. But, citing the “horrible attack” in Nice, France, on Thursday, Trump said on Twitter he would postpone doing so. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is reported to be Trump’s choice to help him woo conservatives.

Clinton predicted the GOP’s Cleveland convention was likely to be “entertaining” for those who favor “bigotry, bluster and bullying.” Her adversary, she repeated, is divisive and dangerous. She offered no hints about the vice presidential partner she has in mind to help her take him on.

Against the backdrop of her campaign’s “Stronger Together” slogan and two giant American flags, Clinton repeated a truism about America that seemed easier to state than to bank on. “We will be better united than divided,” she said.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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