Tim Kaine speaks at Local 19
On October 5, the day after his first and only Vice Presidential Debate, Senator Tim Kaine made an appearance at Local 19, of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union to stump for his running mate Hillary Clinton, recap the previous night, and talk about how the two plan to build an inclusive economy.
Labor leaders were well-represented in the audience, and cohorts from the American Federation of Teachers, the Teamsters, and the Service Employees International Union stood out in matching t-shirts. As the event began before the end of the workday, the audience seemed composed of mostly student- and retirement-age voters, including some who said they were still undecided.
Two Democratic congressmen, the president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, a Hillary for America staffer, and the assistant director of development for the University of Pennsylvania took turns introducing Kaine with anecdotes about workers’ rights. And when Kaine took the stage, he immediately connected his background as the son of an iron-worker (both his parents were present) to the event’s location in a labor hall and to Clinton’s campaign slogan, “Stronger Together.”
If you can’t defend your running mate, how can you ask one person to vote for your running mate?
Yet Kaine’s speech tended to rely more on these aesthetic appeals more than it delved into economic policy—an overcorrection, perhaps, after his facts-heavy debate performance was criticized as “aggressive.” Kaine, for his part, characterized himself as a good “goalie” for Clinton, whereas Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, often preferred to deflect rather than defend Trump’s campaign promises.
“If you can’t defend your running mate, how can you ask one person to vote for your running mate?” Kaine asked, rhetorically. The crowd cheered.
Kaine spent a lot of time addressing civil rights and social justice, always returning to Clinton as both movements’ champion and their natural heir. He drew an arc from Barbara Johns, a Black activist who at 16 led a school strike in support of integration, to the nomination of Hillary Clinton, the first woman to head a major-party ticket.
“Hillary Clinton has been the underdog again and again throughout her life,” said Kaine, pointing out that she is attempting something that’s never been done before. But, he said, his philosophy is that “you’re the underdog until you win.”
You’re the underdog until you win.
Kaine emphasized repeatedly that Donald Trump’s attitude in his first debate with Clinton, and the revelation days later that he may not have paid income taxes for eighteen years, proved that he was not on the side of working people. But the most concrete data he offered the audience at the end of the speech dealt not with job creation or retention, but voting. He quizzed the crowd on the deadline for voter registration, which had been repeated over and over in the entry line by clipboard-carrying HFA volunteers (it’s next Tuesday) and asked for the name of the website Philly voters can use to register (IWillVote.com).
Kaine’s speech seemed to energize the crowd, many of whom surged forward after it concluded to shake the senator’s hand. While he stuck mostly to English during the address, he concluded with a beaming smile and shouted “adelante, hasta la victoria.”