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Kaine courts millennials in Iowa

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AMES — Tim Kaine said he thinks millennials are altruistic, global thinkers who embrace diversity.

And he said those young people will be critical in choosing the nation’s next president.

Kaine, the Democratic nominee for vice president and running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, spoke Monday at a rally on the Iowa State University campus as the campaign made an appeal to young voters.

“Millennials are critical to this race. Young voters are critical to this race,” said Kaine, a U.S. senator from Virginia. “Some people look at the millennial generation, and they find reasons to gripe about them. I look at the millennial generation, and I see … embracing diversity, I see altruistic and patriotic and thinking globally.”

Democrats are hoping millennials turn out in the November election, which was 50 days from Monday, and support Clinton. In an August poll by USA Today, millennial likely voters overwhelmingly supported Clinton over Trump, 56 percent to 20 percent.

Jeff Kaufmann, the Republican Party of Iowa chairman and a history and psychology professor at Muscatine Community College, said in a conference call Monday that Republicans have not written off millennial voters, but he cast doubt on Clinton’s ability to improve her standing with the group.

“I’ve been teaching and interacting with this group of individuals for more than a quarter of a century. I’ve got a pretty good handle on this group, certainly a better handle than Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine could hope to have,” Kaufmann said. “I can tell you that is a fluid vote. That is a vote that is focused on very specific issues. I can tell you a few of those issues are definitely privacy rights, individualism, cost of education. I can also tell you this group is pretty discerning, and they are not going to be captured by ridiculous claims that somehow they’re going to have a free college education.”

En route to Ames, Kaine stopped into Mars Café coffee shop near the Drake University campus. Among the people he greeted was a trio of Drake students who said they were pleasantly surprised to get a chance to meet Kaine.

One of the students Kaine greeted was Shea Sieff, a junior from suburban Chicago. Sieff said she supported Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, but Clinton was her second choice, and she is supporting Clinton in the general election.

“Right now, the election is between Trump and Hillary, and who are we going to pick that’s going to make America a country that we want to live in and not a country fueled by hate or racism?” Sieff said, adding she thinks Clinton is working to help minorities. “I think she’s the right choice.”

Sieff said she thinks people her age are getting more involved in the political process during this election.

“I think we’re seeing now more millennials and my generation getting involved in the political system,” she said. “I feel like this election has been a turn for that.”

At the Iowa State rally, which drew roughly 500 people, according to the campaign, Kaine spoke about issues he thinks are important to young voters: LGBT equality, addressing climate change, women’s choice in health care, immigration reform and voting rights.

He also criticized Trump on numerous fronts, including his view of the country. Kaine held up a copy of Trump’s book, “Crippled America,” and contrasted it with the book written by the Clinton-Kaine campaign, “Stronger Together.”

“I don’t recognize crippled America. I don’t recognize this anywhere I go,” Kaine said. “That’s what this race is about: fundamentally who we are.”

Kaine also attended a campaign fundraiser Monday at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines. Roughly 65 people attended the fundraiser, which required a donation of $2,700 to $5,000 per person that will go toward organizing and get-out-the-vote programs, according to the Clinton campaign.

Most polls on the presidential race in Iowa have shown a close race between Clinton and Trump, although a Monmouth University Poll published last week showed Trump with a lead of 8 percentage points.

For all of The Gazette's Election 2016 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

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