Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine told a crowd of several hundred at Davidson College that Republican Donald Trump’s apology for lewd remarks was insincere and reflected an “abusive” attitude toward women.
Facing the school’s front lawn, Kaine also said Trump is wrong on issues from equality to the economy and questioned his refusal to release his tax returns.
Kaine’s appearance continued the parade of national candidates to the Charlotte area. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Charlotte Friday and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, spoke to supporters in town Monday.
Kaine said he’s proud to be on the ticket with Democrat Hillary Clinton, whom he called a “strong woman who will make history.”
Kaine went on to talk about equality, condemning North Carolina’s voter ID law which a federal court said discriminated against African-Americans, and reiterating his support for marriage and LGBT equality.
In an interview with the Observer after the event, he also said he considers House Bill 2 “discriminatory.” He also found it objectionable that in passing the law, the state nullified a Charlotte ordinance that extended anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community.
“So I had a double reaction,” he said. “It was discriminatory. And second, it was a heavy-handed attempt to thwart the role of local voters who have the right to elect their city council and mayor and be the kind of city they want to be.”
In a statement, N.C. Republican Chairman Robin Hayes alluded to emails published by Wikileaks after a hack of a Clinton campaign account.
“Tim Kaine’s last minute push to engage millennials who have been reluctant to embrace Hillary Clinton’s candidacy comes after a day of bombshells for the Clinton campaign,” Hayes said.
Wikileaks disclosed emails that allegedly portray excerpts of speeches by Clinton to big Wall Street firms. Clinton’s campaign has blamed Russia for the hack.
Asked about the emails, Kaine expressed skepticism about their credibility.
“I don’t know if these emails are real or not,” he told the Observer. “They’re part of a Russian cyberattack that is being perpetrated … to destabilize the election. … Why would we assume the documents are accurate?”
Speaking to the Davidson audience, Kaine talked about the controversy over a videotape released Friday that shows Trump in 2005 making lewd comments about women and suggesting he could grope them because he’s a celebrity. Trump described the comments as “locker room talk.”
“Donald Trump to my satisfaction didn’t demonstrate sincerity in his apology,” Kaine said. “He tried to diminish the impact by saying it’s locker room talk…. I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think that’s what men do. It’s abusive. It’s abusive words And it’s a description of abusive behavior.”
In the Observer interview, he said the tape is further evidence that Trump “cannot look at a woman as an equal.”
“He will see a woman as an object,” he said.
He also condemned Trump’s comments that Clinton belongs in jail. Kaine said it reminded him of third world countries.
Kaine also discussed Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. He said Trump promised in 2014 that he would release his tax returns, but backed off that pledge.
“There are 2 million families like mine with children serving in the military,” said Kaine, whose son is a Marine. “Who supports the military? Who supports the VA system? People like us (who pay taxes).”
Kaine also said that Trump wants the U.S. to become a “Deportation Nation,” a reference to Trump having said he would deport all undocumented workers.
Kaine’s visit, like those of the other candidates, demonstrated North Carolina’s status as a key battleground heading into the final weeks of the campaign, a status he acknowledged.
“You guys are really, really important this cycle,” he said. “If we won North Carolina, we will be victorious on Nov. 8.”
Kaine joked that he’d always wanted to come to Davidson.
“My grades weren’t good enough,” he said. “So I had to get on a national ticket.”
Key upcoming election dates
▪ Thursday: U.S. Senate debate, 7 p.m. WSOC
▪ Friday: Voter registration deadline. Donald Trump rallies: 2 p.m. in Greensboro, 7 p.m. in Charlotte.
▪ Tuesday: Final gubernatorial debate, 7 p.m.
▪ Wednesday: Final presidential debate, 9 p.m. Chris Wallace, moderator.
▪ Oct. 20: Early voting begins.
▪ Nov. 8: Election Day.