When a schedule change forced Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine to cancel a trip to Sarasota last week, he made his staff promise him they’d get the city back on his schedule before Nov. 8.
Saturday, he delivered on that promise, speaking to a crowd at The Francis banquet hall in Sarasota.
“I’m going to just get to the punchline: If you win it in Florida, it’s won,” he said.
In his speech, Kaine talked about the importance of early voting, called Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a dangerous con artist and laid out some of the different ways running mate Hillary Clinton would make history if elected.
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“We know Hillary will make history as the first woman president of the United States, but she’ll make history in another way. We’ve never had a president who’s made their whole career focused on empowering families and children,” Kaine said.
Kaine spoke at length about Clinton’s passion for children and families. Trump also has a passion, Kaine said.
“I will give Donald Trump this, he does have a passion. It’s just that the passion is Donald J. Trump,” he said.
Kaine also talked about how Trump always puts himself first, echoing John F. Kennedy’s line from his 1961 inauguration speech in which Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
“This nation never had a great president who put himself first,” Kaine said, adding Clinton has historically put children and families first her whole career.
During the third debate, after Kaine said Trump ran out of groups to insult, the GOP nominee insulted the greatest pillar of American democracy when he began saying the elections in the nation are being rigged.
“How low of an opinion of the United States do you have, Donald Trump?” Kaine asked.
After a 12-year hiatus from voting, 50-year-old Bradenton resident Lisa Vess cast her first vote for president Friday in Lakewood Ranch for Clinton.
“I feel like she will best represent their future,” Vess said Saturday, nodding toward her two children.
Waiting outside The Francis on North Palm Avenue, 19-year-old Brandon Vess and 14-year-old Sarah Vess joined their mother to see Kaine.
This year was the first year 19-year-old Brandon, who graduated from Manatee School for the Arts in 2015, was able to vote. He got off work early one day last week and excitedly cast his vote for Clinton, he said.
“I felt like this was a particularly important election,” he said. “I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Although not yet old enough to vote, Sarah said she supports Clinton. A ninth-grade student at MSA, the students there are conducting a mock election, she said, but students are conflicted.
“A lot of my classmates don’t really like either candidate,” she said.
When looking at the two candidates, 75-year-old Dee Hardin said she doesn’t understand how anyone could vote for Trump.
“It’s so difficult to put into words,” said Hardin, a Venice resident. “The first woman president, at my age I’d like to see that.”
While supporters waited to get into the event, 45-year-old Sarasota resident Steve McAllister and 49-year-old Longboat Key resident Sid Friedman helped entertain the crowd, playing an acoustic guitar and singing.
One song included Bob Dylan’s 1960s anthem, “The Times They Are A-Changin.’”
“She cares about everyone, and I trust her to make important decisions and she has the experience,” Friedman said. “Most importantly, Trump scares me.”
In closing, Kaine said he felt confident seeing the energy throughout Florida, but he urged those in the room to stay on there toes and make sure they get to the polls.
“I am here to tell you we can't take anything, anything for granted,” he said. “I’m 8-0 in races and I’m planning on being 9-0 on Tuesday.”