Calling himself “a neighbor,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia on Wednesday touted Democrat Hillary Clinton’s jobs program while slamming Republican Donald Trump as the candidate who would cost millions of jobs.
“Would you rather have a ‘You’re hired!’ president or a ‘You’re fired!’ president?” Kaine said, invoking the tagline of The Apprentice, Trump’s reality show.
Kaine spoke to around 500 people at Greensboro’s old train station during his first trip to North Carolina as Clinton’s running mate. Earlier he’d visited a High Point bedding manufacturer.
His visit comes a day before Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, headlines a rally in Raleigh. Following last week’s visits to North Carolina by Clinton and Trump, the appearances underscore the importance of the state as a presidential battleground, a message Kaine hammered home.
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“I’m here in Greensboro to tell you North Carolina really, really matters,” he said.
Polls indicate a tight race in the state. An average of recent polls by Real Clear Politics shows Clinton with a 2-point lead in the state, well within the margin of error. The conservative Civitas Institute Wednesday released a survey showing Trump with a 46 percent to 42 percent lead in North Carolina.
Kaine compared last week’s Democratic National Convention with the GOP convention a week earlier. The Democratic Party, he said, has a positive view of the country compared to the “dark and depressing Gotham City vibe” of the Republican gathering.
“That was not the United States,” he said. “It was a tour through the mind of Donald Trump.”
While ridiculing Trump’s business record, including bankruptcies. He also mocked one of Trump’s most-used lines: “Believe me.”
“This believe me thing,” Kaine said. “North Carolinians are not gullible people. And sadly, there is a lot of history with Donald Trump in that people who have trusted him have been hurt.”
Kaine touted Clinton’s proposals to launch the biggest jobs program since World War II.
He cited a report last week from Moody’s Analytics, an independent research group, that said Clinton’s program would create 10.4 million jobs over her presidency. In a June analysis of Trump’s plan, Moody’s said it would cost 3.5 million jobs, boost unemployment to 7 percent and result in falling home prices.
But Republican state Sen. Joyce Krawiec, speaking for the N.C. GOP, pointed in a statement to North Carolina’s economy under Gov. Pat McCrory.
“Under GOP leadership, North Carolina has become home to the fastest growing economy in the nation, added more than 300,000 jobs, lowered unemployment in all 100 counties and implemented historic tax reform envied by current Virginia Gov. and close friend of Hillary Clinton, Terry McAuliffe,” she said.
“Maybe Tim Kaine should take notes from Gov. McCrory and the state legislature before promoting an economic agenda that Hillary Clinton doesn’t even know how to fund.”
In Greensboro, Kaine visited an area whose economy is relatively healthy. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the area’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in May, below the state’s 5.1 percent rate. (The Charlotte area’s unemployment rate was 4.5 percent.)
Clinton has proposed paying for her programs with higher taxes on corporations and people making more than $300,000 a year.
Kaine said a Clinton administration would grow the economy for everyone, especially for the poorest Americans. He said Clinton would raise the minimum wage.
Kaine also said Clinton would have “debt-free college,” which was a major part of Clinton rival Bernie Sanders’ platform during the Democratic primary.
Kaine also weighed in on some North Carolina issues.
He likened House Bill 2, the law that overturned a Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance, to a religious freedom bill passed last year in Indiana and signed by Pence. After an outcry from businesses, Pence reversed himself and signed a bill “clarifying” the law.
“He kind of had to do a U-turn,” Kaine said.
Earlier, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper said the state’s economy has suffered because of HB2. He pledged to repeal it.
Kaine also praised last month’s ruling by a federal appeals court panel that overturned North Carolina’s sweeping voter ID law. He said the reversal could mean 100,000 people voting who otherwise might not have.
“If your vote doesn’t matter, then why is the other side working so hard to make sure you couldn’t go to the polls?” Kaine said.
U.S. Rep Alma Adams, a Charlotte Democrat, spoke before Kaine. She said Trump is “picking so many fights he’s made Don King his campaign manager.”
“You know what’s scary about Donald Trump? He could still win this thing,” Adams said.