Kaine vows Clinton will win Pennsylvania in November, keeps heat on Trump
Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine stressed Thursday during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh that Pennsylvania is a must-win state in November.
“This is my third time in Pittsburgh since I got on the ticket less than 100 days ago. It’s because you’re important. Pennsylvania’s important,” Kaine told more than 800 supporters gathered in front of Carnegie Mellon University’s Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall, which was adorned with a massive American flag and bunting.
“Donald Trump knows he has to win Pennsylvania to become president, and we’re not going to let that happen,” said Kaine, a U.S. senator from Virginia who served as a city councilman, mayor, lieutenant governor and governor.
A Franklin & Marshall College poll released this week showed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Kaine leading the Republican Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, by 9 percentage points in Pennsylvania.
Kaine’s appearance came two days after the race’s only vice presidential debate. Kaine was criticized widely for repeatedly interrupting Pence during the debate, while Pence’s critics said he did a poor job of defending Trump’s more controversial statements during the campaign.
A CNN/ORC instant poll showed that 48 percent of voters who watched the debate thought Pence performed better, while 42 percent thought Kaine outperformed Pence.
Kaine said during his 45-minute speech Thursday that he “played goalie” in the debate to defend Clinton from attacks by Pence and tried “to lay down Donald Trump’s words and actions before Gov. Pence and say, ‘I can’t believe Gov. Pence would defend this.’ ”
Kaine said Pence preferred to change the subject than defend Trump, who will speak in Ambridge on Monday afternoon.
“If you can’t defend your running mate, why should one person in this country vote for your running mate?” Kaine said.
Kaine said he believed he laid out during the debate the stark policy differences between the campaigns, from Clinton’s goal of making college debt-free, ensuring marriage equality and protecting women’s rights to make their own health care decisions to lowering taxes on the middle class and small businesses and preventing America from becoming “deportation nation,” as he said it would under Trump’s immigration policies.
Kaine criticized Trump for not releasing his tax returns as every major-party presidential candidate since Richard Nixon has done. He described the billionaire businessman as a selfish pessimist who has fought to avoid paying taxes and, in his book “Crippled America,” laid out a vision “that is fundamentally negative, doom and gloom, and blame-America-first.”
“I don’t see a crippled America,” Kaine said. “We can solve any problem … as long as we allow everyone around the table to solve it. America only gets into trouble when we push people away from the table.”
After touting Pittsburgh’s importance as a manufacturing center, Kaine called out Trump over reports that he used foreign-made steel in construction of his hotels.
“Don’t you think Donald Trump, if he believed in America and making America great again, (would) buy his steel in Pennsylvania instead of China?” Kaine said.
Dave Harvey, 61, of Cabot in Butler County said stories like that are what separate Trump and Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton has always stood by working people,” said Harvey, who attended the rally with a group of fellow United Steel Workers members. “She has a plan. (Trump) is all talk.”
The crowd consisted mostly of college-age supporters. Among them, Yasmine Kotturi, 24, of Shadyside, who said she can’t wait to cast her first vote as an American citizen for the Clinton-Kaine ticket. The Canadian-born doctoral student, who became a citizen in March 2015, said she is inspired by “Clinton’s proactive steps to protect women’s rights.”
Edgewood neighbors Ellen Pettrone, 66, and Jim Burkett, 64, said they think Kaine brings valuable experience to the ticket.
As for his debate performance, Pettrone said, “Maybe he shouldn’t have interrupted so much, but he had to get his points across. And I think he did a good job of it.”
Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.