In Cedar Rapids, Kaine says choice is between 'you're hired,' 'you're fired'

Vice presidential hopeful rallies supporters at Kirkwood stop

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CEDAR RAPIDS — It wasn’t by accident that Tim Kaine was campaigning in Cedar Rapids Wednesday.

Iowa “is a very close state and we’re here because we definitely have to win,” Kaine told about 300 people at a campaign rally at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

“And I have to admit I’m here for one other reason: My campaign manager is from Cedar Rapids,” Kaine said, referring to Matt Paul, who grew up in Cedar Rapids and has been with the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign from the start. “He wanted to make sure that we came.”

Kaine, a former Richmond, Virginia, mayor, also gave a shout-out to his “really dear friend,” former Mayor Lee Clancey.

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann may have seen irony in that. He dubbed Kaine “Weather-Vane Kaine” because of the way he has flip-flopped on issues since becoming Clinton’s running mate. Clancey very publicly left the Republican Party in 2004 to endorse Al Gore.

Kaufmann described Kaine as a “policy chameleon,” flip-flopping on a variety of issues ranging from taxpayer-funded abortion to off-short drilling for oil.

Before Kaine was done speaking, he had a few choice words for the GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

“Ignorant” and “thickheaded” were a couple the Virginia senator used to contrast Trump with Hillary Clinton. Unlike Trump, he said, Clinton is “the most qualified person that either party has put up to be president for a very long time.”

Kaine, who toured Kirkwood industrial technology classrooms before the rally, cited Clinton’s and Trump’s respective job plans to highlight the differences between the candidates.

“Do you want a ‘You’re hired’ president or do you want a ‘You’re fired’ president?” he asked the crowd. Before Trump ran for president, “the two words we most associated with Donald Trump were ‘you’re fired.’”

“It’s that simple, folks, Hillary Clinton will be a ‘you’re hired’ president,’” Kaine said.

It’s also the way experts, like Moody’s Analytics, think of Trump, he continued. The bond rating firm has analyzed the jobs plans of Trump and Clinton and come to the conclusion that her plans would add 10 million jobs and spur a growing economy. Under Trump’s plan, it said, after four years the economy would have shed 3.5 million jobs and be in recession.

Campaign staff said it probably was a coincidence that Clinton and Kaine both made their first campaign stops at Kirkwood facilities. Clinton had a “listening session” in an auto mechanics shop at Kirkwood’s Monticello campus in April 2015. Kaine visited industrial technical classrooms, where he saw labs where students are taught programmable logic control lab and information and instrumentation.

Those facilities and training will be key to filling employers’ needs, Kaine said.

Tim Arnold, an instructor in the Kirkwood Energy Center — where Kaine saw employees of Nordex, a West Branch wind turbine manufacturer, doing safety training — introduced Kaine by telling the audience the stakes are too high to elect Trump.

Arnold, who served in the Air Force and used the GI Bill to attend college, plans to vote for the Clinton-Kaine ticket because of the candidates’ records of advocating for veterans and because Clinton “has the temperament to be commander-in-chief.”

“The stakes in this election are way too high to stay on the sidelines and sit,” Arnold said. “We are better than Donald Trump.”

The stakes are too high for a candidate who is willing to abandon his policy positions to align himself with the “very left-wing base Hillary Clinton had to follow in order to beat the 73-year-old socialist,” GOP Chairman Kaufmann said.

“These aren’t small positions, obscure little topics,” Kaufmann said.

For example, Kaine previously supported the Hyde Amendment that banned taxpayer-funded abortion. Recently, he’s adopted Clinton’s position, which Kaufmann said is in line with Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice organizations. He’s recently come out in opposition to offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean despite co-sponsoring legislation in 2013 to lift the moratorium.

“Now Weather-Vane Kaine puts his finger in the wind and, wow, he’s banning offshore drilling,” Kaufmann said.

It was Kaine’s first visit to Iowa as the vice presidential candidate, but not likely to be the last to the state that he described as “incredibly important” in the Clinton victory plan.

The campaign feels good about where it’s at, “but it’s been a season of surprises,” Kaine said, “and there can be no sense of complacency.”

“There may be more surprises … and in Iowa it’s very close. You’re one of the closest states right now,” Kaine said.

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