U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former Vice-Presidential nominee, arrived for a campaign event at the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam’s field office near the Downtown Mall Sunday afternoon.
Kaine’s arrival came after a weekend of touring the state in support of Northam and in tandem with the Charlottesville Canvas Kickoff, which launched the campaign efforts of local door to door canvassing. The event was hosted by the Virginia Coordinated Campaign, the campaign organizers of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Kaine was greeted by volunteers for the Northam campaign who had been canvassing and phone banking throughout the day.
Kaine was introduced by Kristin Szakos, a member of the Charlottesville City Council and a volunteer for the Northam campaign. She highlighted the efforts of the campaign’s efforts of knocking on over 7,000 doors locally this weekend before Kaine began to address the crowd.
Kaine began speaking about current Attorney General and Democratic candidate Mark Herring, who was once a student of Kaine’s in a University of Richmond Law School ethics class. Kaine said Herring would continue to uphold the Attorney General’s duty to “battle for justice.”
Regarding Justin Fairfax, Kaine said it was important for the Democratic Party to have a lieutenant governor of their party preside over the State Senate when the majority of seats are Republican.
Kaine shared his personal relationship and history with Northam, who is currently the state’s lieutenant governor, narrating the story of the candidate’s political career. He focused on Northam’s past experience in the military and as a doctor, connecting these characteristics to Northam’s candidacy.
“He’s a listener, he is a compassionate person, he’s a decisive person,” Kaine said about Northam. “These are traits that are really important.”
Kaine said these characteristics were important for a governor, especially in times of tragedy and emergency such as the Virginia Tech shooting which occurred while Kaine was the governor of Virginia.
Speaking about the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Kaine criticized Ed Gillespie’s campaign and said the Commonwealth needed a message of healing following the violent white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville on Aug. 11 and 12.
“Ed Gillespie, I guess, it is about statues, bogus claims about sanctuary cities and bogus claims about criminal justice issues,” Kaine said. “He is running a Donald Trump-like campaign that is hoping that division may get him enough votes to win.”
Concluding his remarks to the volunteers at the Northam campaign office, Kaine said he was grateful for canvassing in the rain and said their work was important, especially in a battleground state like Virginia. The senator answered several questions from the crowd ranging in topics from healthcare to the Republican Party’s relationship with President Donald Trump.
After addressing Northam campaign volunteers, Kaine responded to a question from The Cavalier Daily about the role of Charlottesville in this Virginia race, but also in national politics.
“The Charlottesville incident on August 12th also demonstrated the degree to which sort-of this white supremacist, neo-Nazi stuff is not minor,” Kaine said to The Cavalier Daily. “And those of us who are committed to the equality principle, we have to really push for it because there are people out there who feel very emboldened, and even emboldened by the president, and to push against it.”
Kaine also addressed that associated an image of Gillespie with a picture of Trump and an image of white supremacists with torches. The mailer says,“On Tuesday, November 7th, Virginia Gets To Stand Up To Hate.” Republicans have criticized the campaign material and have said it goes too far.
Kaine said although he does not know of any connections of Gillespie to the organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally, he still considers some of Gillespie’s campaign materials to be divisive.
“He is running divisive ads that are based on Confederate statues, divisive ads based on made up claims about sanctuary cities, divisive ads that really are essentially trying to pit Virginian against Virginian,” Kaine said. “He may not be campaigning with Donald Trump, but he's campaigning like Donald Trump.”
Gillespie on Aug. 12 condemning the white nationalist events in Charlottesville, saying “These displays have no place in our Commonwealth, and the mentality on display is rejected by the decent, thoughtful and compassionate fellow Virginians I see every day.”
While the crowd at the Northam campaign office was, for the most part, local adults, in the audience and among the volunteers were recent college graduates and young adults involved in youth outreach and engagement.
Chris Macko, a local Charlottesville resident and young volunteer, said the canvassing efforts are necessary to remind people to vote.
“[Kaine] thinks this is an incredibly important race that we should focus on because this is a bellwether election and that shows how the country views Trump,” Macko said.
Election Day is Nov. 7.