BATTLEGROUND SECURITY: Sen. Kaine visits the Port City to talk national security and steady hands

Wilmington Democrats welcomed Hillary Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine last Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the Hannah Block Community Arts Center. The vice presidential candidate talked about his and Hillary Clinton’s experience and philosophy on foreign policy and national security, which is often placed next to Donald Trump’s lack thereof on America’s current campaign trail.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: VP nominee Tim Kaine stopped by Wilmington’s community arts center last week for a town-hall meeting. Photo by SR Gentry
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: VP nominee Tim Kaine stopped by Wilmington’s community arts center last week for a town-hall meeting. Photo by SR Gentry

The town-hall meeting at the community arts center was invite-only and saw about 200 or so folks lined up outside to get in before starting at 3 p.m. Among those waiting patiently in the sun and heat were City Councilmen Earl Sheridan and Paul Lawler. They wanted to hear critical issues addressed on foreign policy and national security. “I think we need to figure out how to deal with the world in a positive manner,” Lawler said.

Virginia Sen. Kaine—whose son is a Marine currently based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville—began his address with acknowledging challenges that servicemen and women face on the frontlines and at home. “Just being in the military is about sacrifice and challenge,” Kaine said.

According to the VP candidate, national security is the most serious obligation of any president. It’s an issue, he said, that starts at home.

“When Hillary Clinton asked if I would serve as her running mate, she told me a Clinton/Kaine campaign and its achievements would be measured by the real difference we make in somebody’s home, neighborhood, school, or workplace,” he said. “She told me my governing experience as city councilman and mayor, as lieutenant governor and governor and as a senator, would help make sure we measured our progress by tangible differences in people’s lives.”

Kaine also cited relevant experience in both armed services and foreign relations committees in the Senate; representing a state that not only has “direct ties to military, diplomatic, humanitarian and intelligence efforts” but also one where one out of 10 citizens is a veteran. “I lived overseas in Honduras,” he continued, “and saw from abroad the role that American leadership can play and our obligation to get it right.”

It’s because of his experience and expertise that Hillary Clinton asked him to help “lead the world in its most challenging century.” Navigating through tough security decisions in the coming years will take, among other qualities, sound judgement and a thick skin.

Kaine spoke about the Middle East, ISIS and the Syrian border, of which Wilmington resident Laurie Janus said she was most interested hearing. Originally from Virginia, Janus is familiar with Kaine’s governing hand already, and finds the Clinton/Kaine team more prepared to deal with these ongoing issues over the Republican Trump/Pence team.

“I think it’s important to note the contrast between the vast experience in national security and diplomacy that Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine will bring to the White House, versus the complete lack of experience on the other side,” she said. “I think the contrast in temperament between the candidates is also enormous and cannot be understated. Kaine did a great job of highlighting all of those differences.”

In addition to foreign affairs and national security policies between the two presidential camps last Tuesday, there was heavy focus on North Carolina’s role in choosing one of them. NC is a major battleground state in 2016 and one of the first things highlighted in Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes’ opening remarks.

“[North Carolina] was among the closest of states in 2008, and [Democrats] prevailed, but in 2012 it was really close, though we just barely missed the mark,” Haynes said. “So it’s very exciting to see a strong level of commitment from Hillary Clinton in earning support for North Carolina voters all across this state.”

NC State Representative Susi Hamilton (up for re-election) echoed Haynes’ sentiment, adding that New Hanover will be an important battleground county where some elections can be won or lost by less than a hundred votes. Hamilton addressed the struggle to witness attacks on public education, voter rights and NC’s LGBT community since the ruling party lines shifted in 2010 and especially since McCrory took office in 2013.

“Six years of a Republican-led General Assembly has set us back on job creation, public education, economic development, environmental issues; the list is long,” Hamilton said.

Janus agreed the event seemingly meant to help “rally the troops” for NC elections as much as for Clinton and Kaine. She hopes Democrats and other Clinton/Kaine supporters will come to vote on November 8 (or earlier) but also that they do more to get out the vote.

“It’s exciting living in a swing state and a swing county, and receiving so much attention from the candidates,” she said. “There is a lot at stake in our country and state. . . . Close elections can be won if each of us commits to bringing just a few neighbors or friends with us to the polls on Election Day.”

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