ANNANDALE, Va. – Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine rolled out the welcome mat for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a rally in Northern Virginia, regaling supporters with her list of qualifications in not one, but two languages.
“Are we ready for Hillary?” he asked a crowd that had endured sweltering temperatures and snaking lines for a chance to hear what the former first lady had to say. Well-wishers filled the surrounding risers, waving homemade signs reading “Clinton Country” and “HRC 45.”
When the packed auditorium erupted into chants of “Hill-ary! Hill-ary!” an exuberant Kaine responded, “Estamos listos para Hillary!” — showing off the Spanish he picked up while serving as a missionary in Honduras.
The event in the battleground state was viewed partly as an audition for Kaine to become Clinton’s running mate this fall. He’s a former Virginia governor who also made it onto Barack Obama’s VP shortlist in 2008.
He quizzed the attendees gathered at Northern Virginia Community College about what they wanted from the next commander in chief.
“Do you want a ‘You’re fired!’ president, or a ‘You’re hired!’ president,” Kaine said, reaching back to the signature catchphrase presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump barked at contestants on “The Apprentice.”
Kaine went on to inquire if audience members favored someone who had described the U.S. military as a “disaster” — “I don’t want someone who trash talks our troops,” Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who represents a state with a heavy military presence, said— or could see themselves lining up behind a racist.
“To him it doesn’t matter if you’re a new immigrant … or a Latino governor of New Mexico,” Kaine warned, invoking incendiary statements Trump has uttered in the past.
Clinton thanked Kaine for framing the upcoming election in terms of what’s at stake for the future.
“Are we coming together or falling apart?” she posited.
Per Clinton, the decision this November is not about choosing parties. It’s about going forward “with confidence and hope” or “giving into bigotry and bluster.”
“I want us all to rise together,” Clinton said.
Her mission, Clinton suggested, was to make sweeping changes to the world we know.
She reiterated plans to push for equal pay for women, raise the minimum wage, secure paid leave for working families, provide free community college for all and eradicate student loan debt.
Clinton seeded her speech with a few pop culture references, alerting the faithful that she had, in fact, caught the zeitgeist-y musical Hamilton.
“Well, I saw it for the third time; don’t tell anyone,” she shared.
Later on, she wondered what it would take to convince video game designers to create “Pokemon Go to the polls.”
The lightheartedness dissipated whenever she pivoted to Trump, a rival she accused of focusing on “scapegoating,” “finger pointing” and “marginalizing” people rather than showing them the way forward.
“We are going to work to make sure that America has its best days ahead of us,” Clinton pledged.