SANDSTON, Va. — “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
Sen. Tim Kaine wasn’t wearing Dorothy’s ruby slippers, but if anyone had forgotten that the Democratic vice presidential nominee was originally from Overland Park, Kansas, they were reminded late Monday night at a rally that carried through when the first ballots of Election Day 2016 were being cast in small towns in New Hampshire.
There was no mistaking the closing argument for supporters of the Virginia Democrat and the woman at the top of the ticket, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gathered in an airplane hangar outside Richmond — the capital of the old confederacy and a commonwealth that hasn’t always been on the side of progress.
“Terry, Governor, we’re back in the mold of making history in this country, not holding history back,” Kaine said, turning from the assembled crowd to his warmup act, Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “That’s what Virginia is. That’s who Virginia is.”
The Democratic audience had cheered McAuliffe when he talked about his decision to grant clemency to tens of thousands of people who had been unable to vote, and how he has pledged to personally sign off on what’s potential a couple hundred thousand cases, in order to comply with a court decision.
McAuliffe, a longtime friend of the Clintons, warmed up the crowd for a while before Kaine could arrive, touting the credentials of both members of the ticket.
Kaine was tardy because he had been with the famously loquacious current occupant of the office he hopes to win, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Kaine and Biden were campaigning in Fairfax County at George Mason University, and the Virginia senator needed to fly from one venue to the other.
Having come fresh from a stop in Northern Virginia, Kaine had a ready-made segue to a history lesson about the Occoquan Workhouse (or the Lorton Reformatory), which is a famous now-defunct Washington, D.C., jail that was located in Virginia.
Kaine told the crowd about how suffragettes had been jailed there in 1917 for violations stemming from protests outside the White House seeking voting rights for women.
“Those women who said that were put in jail right here in Virginia, but their example inspired the nation, and within two years in 1919 … Congress passed the 19th Amendment,” Kaine said, before then taking his home state to task for going decades before agreeing to ratification, despite the fact 36 states did so almost immediately.
“The next president of the United States is going to commemorate the centennial of women getting the right to vote. Don’t you want that to be a strong woman rather than somebody who offends women?” Kaine said, just about the time Election Day arrived. “Is that too much to ask?”
Kaine sounded the familiar complaints from Democrats and other critics about Republican presidential nominee and businessman Donald Trump, from Trump’s comments about minority groups, to persons with disabilities, to having said that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wasn’t really a hero because he had been captured.
But more than anything else, he cast voting for Clinton in the context of the historical marker that Virginia, where Clinton has maintained a lead in the polls, would rather be on the prevailing side of.
“There’s some history to be made tomorrow. There’s some history to be made tomorrow, and we don’t have to be holding it back. We can be accelerating it forward tomorrow,” Kaine said.
“If they call this race for Hillary Clinton tomorrow night, then immediately you’re going to make history because a whole bunch of people in this country who’ve never been able to see themselves as president of the United States until now,” Kaine said. “Suddenly they’ll know: ‘I can be president of the United States, and if I can be president of the United States, I can be anything.’”
At the final Kaine-led rally of 2016 there was no Lady Gaga. Or Bruce Springsteen. Or James Taylor. There was some Katy Perry roaring on a speaker system.
Before Kaine arrived, the audience of hundreds heard music from the John Marshall High School marching band and Richmond’s own Cary Street Ramblers, an old-time, Appalachia-style music group.
Which is to say this was quintessentially Kaine and his wife Anne Holton having one last gathering with friends old and new, dating back to the first runs for the city council in Richmond.
Kaine again reminded everyone within earshot late Monday night that he’s 8-0 as a candidate for office, dating back to local government, and fully planning to be 9-0 by the time Tuesday night’s over in New York City, where the Clinton campaign is holding its election night party.
About the only things missing were the senator’s harmonicas.