MIAMI, (CN) — Hillary Clinton introduced her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine to a boisterous Miami crowd in Miami on Saturday, assuring her supporters that he’s a can-do progressive committed to social justice and equality “everything Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not.”
It was the new team’s first campaign rally, and the venue — Florida International University in a crucial swing state with a study body mostly made up of Latinos — was fitting for an introduction of Kaine, a fluent Spanish speaker and one-time Catholic missionary.
Most in the audience had never heard of Kaine before, so Clinton went to some lengths to provide him with a thorough introduction.
“He is qualified to step into this job and lead on day one. He is a progressive who likes to get things done. That’s just my kind of guy,” she told he more than 5,000 who went to see the new Democratic ticket.
Clinton described Kaine’s experience as a mayor, governor and U.S. senator, and she touted his record in Virginia for increasing access to education and limiting gun ownership, along with earlier work as a civil rights attorney.
“While Tim was taking on housing discrimination and homelessness, Donald Trump was denying housing to people who were African-American,” she said.
Clinton was referencing a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Trump Management Corporation by the Justice Department in 1973, which the company settled, though as is typical in such settlements, Trump has said the settlement was not an admission of guilt.
Before giving up the podium to Kaine, Clinton took a few more jabs at Trump, calling him out for using the words “I alone” at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
“As Americans, we solve problems together,” she said. “And if Donald Trump doesn’t understand that, he doesn’t understand America.”
The first words of Kaine’s address were in Spanish. “Bienvenidos a todos,” he said, which translates to “welcome to everyone.”
He picked up his second language as a missionary in Honduras during his twenties, when he took a year off law school while at Harvard.
Throughout his address, Kaine transitioned between English and Spanish to emphasize his ties to the Latino community.
He told stories of his upbringing in Kansas City, where he attended a Jesuit all-boys school and learned his father’s trade, iron-working, and he also spoke fondly of his wife Anne Holton — Virginia’s Secretary of Education — and their three children, Woody, Annelia and Nat, a U.S. Marine.
Though Kaine was somewhat long-winded in his remarks, he eloquently delivered key points about his service, calling attention to his unique experience as a mayor, a senator and governor, which has only been done by 20 people in all of U.S. history.
“I spent most of my life in public service because I believe in doing everything I can to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” he said.
In juxtaposition to his own record, Kaine characterized Donald Trump as a man who leaves “a trail of broken promises and wrecked lives wherever he goes.”
Meanwhile, Trump released a flurry of statements through his campaign accusing President Barack Obama, Clinton and Kaine of being “the ultimate insiders” in text messages to his supporters. Trump did have at least one fan show up at Clinton’s rally, a man who stood outside holding two signs that read: “Latino para Trump” and “Lock her up.”
Before Clinton and Kaine took the podium, local politicians and organizers sung the Democrats’ praises, including U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Fans waved American flags and blue placards that read “Better Together,” and “Estoy con ella,” Spanish for “I’m with her.”
The crowd also broke into impromptu Hillary chants in between pop songs blasted over the stadium, and the whole thing felt a little like a high school pep rally.
After the rally, Courthouse News caught up with Francisco Cabrera, 36, and Camilo Gonzalez, 39, as they exited in matching “Orlando Strong” tank tops. Originally from Ecuador and Colombia, respectively, and now living in Sunrise, Florida, the couple had previously argued over who should be the Democratic candidate, as Cabrera had reservations about Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street.
“I’m more a Bernie guy,” he said. “Camilo is team Hillary.”
Although the men got into frequent arguments over it, they recently agreed any Democrat was preferable to Trump, and Cabrera wore a Hillary sticker at the rally.
“He’s over it,” Gonzalez said.
Neither man was familiar with Kaine before he joined the ticket, but both were impressed with his Spanish and his background in civil rights law. “After all I’ve heard today I think he is a brilliant man,” Cabrera said.
Hillary supporter Milena Palenquela of Miami brought her two daughters and son, hoping to involve them in the political process and fill seats. She worried that not enough Democrats would show up, though that worry proved unfounded, and she was also interested to hear Kaine speak. “I was surprised he was Catholic,” she said. “I liked that about him.”
Also in attendance was Cedric Burl, 44, of Aventura. The bipartisan volunteer came to the rally mainly to promote the concept of voting. But when pressed, he admitted to supporting Hillary Clinton. “It’s a little scary if it doesn’t go the way we are looking for it to go,” he said. “As an African American male, I can say I’m in a position where I’m afraid of what could happen.”
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found last week that 44 percent of registered voters in Florida support Clinton, while 37 support Trump. But a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Trump with 42 percent and Clinton with 39 percent.
Democratic voters in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties are particularly important for Clinton, as they will be necessary to offset Republican leanings in much of the rest of the state.
- California Wildfires Burn Near LA and Big Sur
- Does Sex Matter?