Tim Kaine greets crowd in Spanish as Clinton introduces VP pick in Miami

Virginia senator welcomes everyone in our country with bilingual address as Clinton and running mate take aim at Donald Trump and Mike Pence

Tim Kaine, Hillary Clintons newly minted running mate, had barely taken his place at the podium in Miami when he started speaking Spanish.

Bienvenidos a todos en nuestro pais, porque somos Americanos todos, the senator from Virginia said. It translated to: Welcome to everyone in our country, because we are all Americans.

Of Clinton, he said: Were going to be compaeros de alma [soulmates] in this great lucha [fight] ahead.

A crowd of thousands had queued for hours under the sweltering sun, lines snaking around the campus of Florida International University. They erupted into cheers.

Not long after, Kaine asked those who were naturalized US citizens to raise their hands. A sizable chunk of the audience obliged in a county that is home to a majority Hispanic population.

Thank you for choosing us, Kaine said, to another rousing reception.

Such moments captured dramatically a tale of two elections: Clinton and Kaine embracing the changing demographics of America, Donald Trump surging to the Republican nomination on a staunch anti-immigration platform and a pledge to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

In Miami, one voter, Michael Paul Massaria, turned to his wife and remarked: Were not hearing all that doom and gloom like we did at the Republican convention in Cleveland.

On multiple occasions, Kaine was interrupted with chants of USA! USA! the sort of patriotism often on display at Republican events where time is dedicated to the projection of American strength.

But the supporters who packed into this basketball stadium were celebrating a different vision, one in which America is defined by its diversity and multiculturalism.

Weve got this beautiful country that should be a country of welcome, a country of inclusion, Kaine said.

He later vowed to advance comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, in the first 100 days of a Clinton presidency. Such promises could be seen as wishful thinking, as Barack Obama has learned during his time in the White House. But Massaria, from nearby Davie, was quick to observe the benefit.

Kaines fluency in Spanish, he said, will help down the line with bringing in the Latino vote, especially here in south Florida.

Attendees like Anna Alvarez, a 67-year-old naturalized citizen who moved to Miami 43 years ago, were a testament to the potential appeal of a vice-presidential candidate campaigning for the first time in English and Spanish.

He will get in his pocket the millions and millions of Hispanics that Trump lost, she said.

Alvarez had never seen Kaine before, a fact the senator invoked with the self-deprecating declaration: Let me be honest: for many of you this is the first time youve heard my name.

Clinton
A woman wearing a US flag hijab applauds in the crowd in Miami. Photograph: Scott Audette/Reuters

Alvarez said: Im one of the ones that didnt know his name, but he was incredible. Hes down to earth, I liked his background and his experience. I really like the way he was very proud of his wife.

Trump, she said, reminded her of the Cuban regime she fled from more than four decades ago.

I had the experience of [Fidel] Castro, she said, and Trump is a reminder of the dictators in the world. I am totally against anything that has to do with Trump.

Clinton, who sat beaming behind Kaine throughout his remarks, said in her introduction that America was united behind the the confidence, the optimism that we are stronger together.

Im so thrilled to announce that my running mate doesnt just share those values, he lives them, she said. Tim Kaine is everything Donald Trump and [his vice-presidentil pick] Mike Pence are not. Hes qualified to step into this job and lead on day one. And he is a progressive who likes to get things done.

Clinton announced late on Friday that she had picked Kaine, a senator from Virginia, following an extensive vetting process that lasted more than two months. Her choice followed a calculation that the working-class, swing-state senator could bolster her appeal not just among Latinos but also moderates and independents.

A faction of progressives are less enthusiastic about Kaines centrist record, particularly his approach to the regulation of Wall Street and his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Clintons former rival, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, did not immediately respond to the news. Clinton will formally accept the Democratic nomination for president this week, at the partys national convention in Philadelphia.

In Miami, Clinton touted Kaine as a pragmatic progressive.

When I say hes a progressive who likes to get things done, I mean it. Hes not afraid to take on special interests, Clinton said, adding that Kaine cares more about making a difference than making headlines.

And make no mistake. Behind that smile Tim also has a backbone of steel. Just ask the NRA.

Kaine was governor during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, in which 32 students and faculty members were killed. The senator made reference to the tragedy on Saturday, pausing for a moment as he grew emotional.

It was the worst day of my life, he said.

Kaine recounted how he battled the National Rifle Association in his push for stricter gun laws, which eventually led to an executive order to bar firearm sales to individuals legally declared mentally ill or dangerous. Gun control has emerged as a prominent issue in the 2016 election. Kaine pledged: We will not rest until we get universal background checks.

It was one of his biggest applause lines.

Kaine also wasted little time going after Trump, invoking the real estate moguls recent comments that the US should not immediately come to the assistance of Nato allies unless they had fulfilled their obligations in return.

This drives home the stakes of this election, Kaine said, noting that his son was a US Marine who would deploy next week to Europe to uphold Americas commitment to our Nato allies. He added: Hillary Clinton is the direct opposite of Donald Trump. She doesnt trash our allies she respects them.

Trump last week chose Pence, the Indiana governor, as his vice-presidential candidate. A popular figure among evangelical conservatives and known, like Kaine, for his polite demeanor, Pence has nonetheless shed the nice-guy image in his new role as attack dog for Trump, echoing the real estate moguls message that Clinton is corrupt and disqualified from the presidency.

Trump sought to brand Kaine as beholden to special interests, tweeting early on Saturday that Clinton had in effect rejected the will of progressives and Sanders backers.

Tim Kaine is, and always has been, owned by the banks, he said. Bernie supporters are outraged, was their last choice. Bernie fought for nothing!

Later, Trump added: Just saw Crooked Hillary and Tim Kaine together. Isis and our other enemies are drooling. They dont look presidential to me!

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/23/hillary-clinton-tim-kaine-vp-vice-president

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