LORAIN — Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine urged a few hundred supporters at Lorain High School to get out and vote during a campaign stop Thursday, telling them Ohio will be critical in the election.
“You guys are more than a battleground, you’re a checkmate state,” Kaine said.
Kaine was joined on the stage by U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who told of his own narrow victory a few years ago and the recount that prevented him from taking his seat in Congress for months.
“I am the poster child for every vote mattering,” Franken said.
He urged the crowd to help get out the vote by going door-to-door and making phone calls on behalf of Kaine and his running mate, Hillary Clinton.
“I know that many of you have jobs, many of you have children. Ignore them,” Franken joked. “…Let me tell you something about kids, kids love it when their parents aren’t home.”
Franken also drew cheers when he mentioned Lorain native Don Novello, who played the character Father Guido Sarducci on “Saturday Night Live,” where Franken was also once a cast member.
Kaine and other speakers at the event had harsh words for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whose own running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, made a surprise stop in Amherst earlier this month.
Kaine said Trump has run an “insult-driven campaign,” making disparaging comments about Mexicans, Muslims and women, among others.
“I don’t think he can look at a woman and see an equal,” Kaine said of Trump, who has been fending off claims he has made inappropriate sexual advances on women, allegations that the businessman has denied.
Kaine also criticized Trump for calling himself smart during a debate for not paying taxes.
“Don’t stand up and tell me you’re smart because you figured out a way not to support our troops, not to support our vets, not to support our teachers, not to support our students,” Kaine said as the crowd applauded.
Kaine made a Lorain-specific dig at Trump, noting that Republic Steel has idled its Lorain facility because of cheap Chinese steel being dumped on the market. He said Trump has built many buildings using foreign steel.
“He could buy steel from Ohio or Pennsylvania, but he’s buying steel and aluminum from China,” he said.
In addition to Chinese dumping, the steel industry has been hard hit by a glut in gas and oil that has driven down the call for steel to make pipes for oil and gas exploration.
State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, who was among the speakers who introduced Kaine on Thursday, said afterward that he had a brief conversation with the Virginia senator before he took the stage and asked Kaine about the steel industry.
“He said, ‘I know that, and we’re going to talk about that,’” Ramos said.
Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said he had a brief meet-and-greet with Kaine, but didn’t have a chance to discuss much policy. He said he believes Kaine and Clinton understand Lorain and the problems the city faces.
“In this era, everyone’s looking for the sizzle, the exciting, the rah-rah sort of thing, and I think Sen. Kaine is more of a policy guy,” Ritenauer said after the speech, which he said impressed him.
Kaine also touched on issues ranging from improving police-community relations and furthering equality to expanding voting rights and protecting Social Security.
Monica Bauer of Vermilion brought her three children, ages 12, 15 and 16, to see Kaine for their first political event.
“It’ll be pretty cool to see a vice presidential candidate live and not on TV,” 12-year-old Conner Rutledge said.
Bauer, 45, said she’s taken more of an active interest in politics since moving to Ohio from New Mexico in late 2013.
Ginny Behmer, 17, of Elyria, also was excited to see Kaine. Behmer said she’s been volunteering at Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s local offices and helped out with the event so she could learn more about campaigning and politics.
“I just love Hillary, she’s so inspiring to me,” Behmer said. “She’s a professional woman, which is difficult to be, and she shows me every day it’s possible.”
Monica Dix, an 18-year-old Oberlin College student who was also volunteering at the event, said she was impressed with Kaine and what he had to say. She said it was worth it to miss class because of the unique opportunity to see a vice presidential candidate.
“This was a really special opportunity,” she said.
Although there were no hecklers in the event, at least one Trump supporter braved the cold to speak on behalf of her candidate outside the high school.
“I’ve been a Republican all my life,” Jessica Lehman of Lorain said as she stood in the wind. “I’m 57 years old, and I’m not turning back now.”
Lehman said she wasn’t there to speak ill of anyone, including Kaine, Instead, she said she came to support her party’s nominee, who she believes will help clean up Washington, D.C.
“I’m not out here to start trouble,” she said.
Lehman said a few people backing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had heckled her on their way into the event, but they were told to leave her alone by a Clinton campaign official directing people where they needed to go.
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