WILMINGTON – Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine spoke before a crowd of 200 people at the Hannah Block Historic USO Building in Wilmington Tuesday. There, Kaine talked about the differences between his running mate, Hillary Clinton, and her opponent, Republican Donald Trump, on a specific topic.
“I’m here to talk about national security, which is the most serious obligation of any president,” Kaine said. The junior U.S. senator from Virginia, who has served on the governing body’s committee for foreign relations since taking office in 2013, added: “This is a topic I’ve immersed myself in for many, many years.”
Kaine hit on three different regions in a 40-minute speech: The Middle East, Europe and Latin America. During that time, the former Virginia governor bashed Trump’s comments about other countries and his approach to dealing with foreign leaders.
“He has a bizarre fascination with strong men and authoritarian leaders in countries that are not allies of the United States,” Kaine said, noting Trump’s unusual relationships with current Russian ruler Vladimir Putin and the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi. “And with respect to our allies, he would toss alliances aside and says he wants to ‘take everything back from the world that we’ve given to them.’
“Trump has offered empty promises and divisive rhetoric,” Kaine continued. “Under his leadership, we would be unrecognizable to the rest of the world, and we would be far less safe.”
According to Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s plan to combat “a rising tide of extremism” involves diplomacy, something that she, as former secretary of state, has plenty of experience with.
“In a region that’s fraught with challenges, there’s no substitute — no substitute — for building strong relationships,” Kaine said.
He touted his own numerous trips to the Middle East to work with the leaders of Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.
“Meetings and experiences like these on the ground and in the room give you essential knowledge about the people and places that impact the safety of America,” Kaine said. “Hillary has that. She’s been sitting across those tables for years, and Hillary’s on a first-name basis with nearly every head-of-state in the region.”
In contrast, Trump’s comments about banning all Muslims from entering the United States plays perfectly into ISIS propaganda, Kaine said. The senator also pointed out that Trump has changed his views on America’s involvement in Iraq several times.
“Donald Trump has misled the American people over and over about his position on Iraq,” Kaine said, citing different public comments made over the last 15 years. “He says whatever he feels like, at any given time, because you can do that when you’re a TV star. But you can’t do that when you’re the president of the United States.”
Regarding Europe, where governments are also dealing with an increasing number of terror attacks as well as questions about the stability and strength of the European Union, Kaine noted Trump’s ties to Putin’s authoritarian regime. According to Kaine, Clinton would not be so accommodating to the Russian leader.
“Hillary has a plan to help our allies and weaken the Kremlin’s hand … A strong Europe is in America’s best interest,” Kaine said, adding that Trump’s plans for Europe include things that “match up perfectly with Vladimir Putin’s wish list.”
Trump’s comments on Mexico and other Latin American countries have caused the most controversy, including his promise to build a wall on the border to keep out immigrants and make Mexicans pay for it. Kaine pointed out, however, that during Trump’s visit to Mexico City to meet with Mexican president Enrique Peña-Nieto, he didn’t even bring up the topic.
“On the central issue of his campaign, when he got the chance to bring it up, he choked,” Kaine said, adding that Trump treats immigrants “as a convenient scapegoat for problems he can’t solve.”
The Virginia senator said the biggest, clearest difference between Trump and Clinton is the way they make decisions and deal with friends and allies as well as people they disagree with.
“We’re stronger together,” said Kaine, calling Trump’s comments and policy ideas divisive and ineffective. “Donald Trump doesn’t understand that.”