VEEP SPEAKS

It’s official: Tim Kaine is Hillary Clinton’s point man for Latino outreach

Obsession
2016
Obsession
2016

Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Virginia senator Tim Kaine, took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia tonight (July 27), and his message was simple: “Somos américanos todos.”

Translation: “We’re all Americans.”

Kaine broke into rapid-fire Spanish, showcasing his fluency while relaying the lessons he learned as a teacher with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras.

“Can I be honest with you about something? I never expected to be here.

“It was in high school that my faith became something vital, my North Star for life. When I left high school, I knew I wanted to battle for social justice,” he said. “That’s why I took a year off after law school to volunteer with Jesuit missionaries in high school.”

It was in Honduras Kaine claims he internalized the mantra of “fe, familía, y trabajo” or “faith, family, and work.” The crowd’s response was easily the most lively to any part of his speech, waving signs reading “stronger together” and “juntos se puede.” (“Together we can.”)

It caps off a week of Latino outreach for the Virginia senator, who competed with a number of ethnic Latino frontrunners for the role of Hillary Clinton’s running mate, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and California congressman Xavier Becerra. Monday, he appeared on Spanish-language broadcaster Telemendo for an interview conducted entirely in Spanish, vowing serious immigration reform would happen within “in the first 100 days” of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

He went on to sprinkle his speech with Spanish sayings: “Hillary Clinton and I are compañeros del alma,” he stressed (translating roughly to “brother and sister in arms”). “Si se puede,” he led the chanting crowd, reviving the old slogan from Obama’s 2008 run at the White House. He also invoked the story of a young immigrant girl, with undocumented parents, who expressed trust in Hillary Clinton to keep her family together.

These moments easily earned Kaine the loudest applause. He went on to say, “Hillary Clinton is lista!” or “ready” to lead the United States as president.

A running mate fluent in Spanish is a shrewd choice for the Clinton campaign, as Latinos and Spanish-speakers constitute one of the fastest growing voter demographics in America. And, in this vein, he cuts a strong contrasting figure to Republican nominee Donald Trump, who is highly unpopular with Latinos after promising to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

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