Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine visited Penn State on the Hillary Clinton campaign trail Friday. With 18 days left until the general election on November 8, Kaine packed Alumni Hall in the HUB. Students started lining up as early as 9 a.m. to get a front row seat for the rally and even filled an additional overflow room.
Brief introductory speeches from student organizing fellow Melissa Lopez, State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham, Representative Scott Conklin, and Centre County commissioner Michael Pipe encouraged the crowd to support the down ballot races for Katie McGinty for Senate and Kerith Strano Taylor for House of Representatives before student Ricardo Rojas introduced Kaine.
Touching on his own family’s experience, Rojas’ emotional introduction discussed what’s at stake in the election, emphasizing how his mother fled war-torn and impoverished Colombia and how his father suffered in a Cuban prison for two years because he practiced free speech. As Kaine walked on stage, the crowd roared with excitement.
Kaine began his speech by shouting, “We are!” and the crowd of course responded, “Penn State!” Diving right into the importance of Pennsylvania for the Clinton campaign, Kaine asked the crowd about Pennsylvania’s nickname and said the Keystone State is “key” to the election.
“If we win Pennsylvania, this race will go to Hillary Clinton,” Kaine said. He explained the campaign is built around strong women like Hillary Clinton, strong women supporters, and men who want to support strong women. “I’ve had an awful lot of help and the core of my help has been from strong women…After all these strong women have supported me for so long, what a great thing to support such a strong and compassionate leader as Hillary Clinton.”
Kaine went on to name his support for down ballot races, discussed the presidential debates, and detailed the path to victory for the campaign.
“First, on the debates, three very solid performances and Hillary won all three of them…and Hillary won them clearly because she has the preparation, she has the skill, and the experience. There were not questions that she was asked that she couldn’t grapple with the topic,” Kaine said. “But the thing where she really stood out was just the demeanor and the poise and the grace under pressure…If there’s one thing you would want, she shows judgement, she shows temperament, she shows compassion.”
Kaine then directed his speech towards Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential nominee, and how he called Clinton a “nasty woman.” “It shows who Donald Trump is. I think it’s pretty clear that Donald Trump has major, major problems in terms of looking at a woman as an equal,” Kaine said. “The problem that made the most news the other night was Donald Trump saying he refused he would accept the results of the election.”
The crowd booed that remark. “This is serious stuff. He even said, ‘I want to keep you in suspense.’ This isn’t a TV show,” Kaine said. “This isn’t reality TV. This is running the country and keeping people in suspense if you will hold up our democracy or not is pretty dangerous stuff.”
Mentioning his time as a missionary in military-run Honduras where there aren’t free elections, Kaine contrasted how America respects the outcomes of fair elections and maintains a peaceful transfer of power. “We are so fortunate to have that here and Donald Trump’s unwillingness to just acknowledge that basic thing that I’m going to accept the outcome of the election is very, very troubling,” Kaine said, also touching on Trump’s attitudes toward Russia and Vladimir Putin.
Kaine explained why he and Clinton are running and how he’s spent his career standing up for social justice, civil rights, and making a difference in people’s lives.. He remarked how Clinton said in the last debate that for 40 years her career has been devoted to advancing the needs of families and children and she didn’t have to be in public office to see her character.
Kaine outlined the issues related to students, as well. “College should be debt free. We should be able to make that commitment. You should not have to mortgage your future in order to prepare for your future,” Kaine said. “College should be tuition free for families making less than $125,000 a year.” He emphasized students with loan debt need help to refinance the debt because it will affect them the rest of their lives.
On equality, Kaine explained that women, people of different religions, and members of the LGBTQA community need to be treated equally. “We don’t want to treat people with disabilities as people to be mocked. We want to treat people as equals,” Kaine said. He criticized Donald Trump for perpetuating the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama wasn’t a United States citizen.
On climate change, Kaine explained he and Clinton believe in science and said Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. “In a twelve step program, you’ve got to admit that you have a problem. You cannot solve a problem unless you admit you have a problem,” Kaine joked.
He also criticize Donald Trump for not releasing his tax returns and for saying he’s “smart” for not paying taxes. “You tell me you’re going to be a great President for the military when you’ve been stuffing the military for decades and decades? I’m not going to let you get away with that,” Kaine said. “You cannot stiff vets, stiff teachers, stiff the military, stiff mental health, stiff all these things that bring us together.”
Kaine concluded his speech outlining what’s next for the campaign and how people shouldn’t take anything for granted, despite leading in the polls. “I’m going to give you a piece of advice, Pennsylvania, and this piece of advice comes from my own experience in elections. I’m going to tell you a good fact about me and a bad fact about me,” Kaine said. “The good fact is this: I’m 8-0 in elections and I’m going to be 9-0. I don’t lose elections.” His bad fact was his elections are always close.
“There’s folks out there who need our help and that’s what this election is about. It’s about people. It’s about towns. It’s about cities. It’s about communities. It’s about neighborhoods. It’s about people who need our help.”