By Mitch McAndrew & Matthew Jack
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The vice-presidential candidates of both major parties swung through Iowa on Monday in the midst of a close fight for the state’s six electoral votes.
Democratic vice-presidential hopeful Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, made pitches to millennial voters at Iowa State University Monday afternoon, and GOP veep candidate Mike Pence made stops in Mason City and Dubuque to address national security and the economy.
The most recent polling shows Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with a slight lead in Iowa over rival Hillary Clinton. The latest aggregate poll from Real Clear Politics shows the New York business mogul with a 4.3 percentage point lead over the former secretary of State.
Kaine pushes early voting at ISU
In his second trip to Iowa since accepting the Democratic vice-presidential nomination, Kaine lambasted Trump’s role in the “birtherism” movement in a speech that catered to a young Iowa State University audience.
“When Donald Trump decides about the first African-American president of this country to repeatedly go after him and say, ‘You are not a citizen of the United States,’ he is basically hauling us back to the most painful chapter in the life of this nation. The most painful chapter,” Kaine told a crowd gathered at the university’s Memorial Union, comparing Trump’s questions on Obama’s birth with the Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. Sandford.
Starting with Obama’s first term in the Oval Office, Trump for years had put forth claims that Obama was not born in the United States, eventually causing Obama to release his long-form birth certificate to put the movement to rest.
On Sept. 16, Trump rescinded these claims and admitted that Obama was born in the U.S. But he blamed Hillary Clinton for raising the question, which is untrue.
Kaine pointed to Trump’s “birther” skepticism as a telling sign of his character.
“Somebody needs to ask him, ‘Did you really believe that when you were saying it?’ ” Kaine said. “Because if you did, you either are completely gullible or completely conspiratorial or probably both.”
The Virginia senator emphasized early voting and volunteering to a crowd mostly composed of millennial voters. With 10 days until early voting starts in Iowa, on Sept. 29, Kaine advised the audience that “person-to-person” politics would best persuade Iowa voters.
“They trust a word from a friend, somebody they’re in class with, somebody they go to church with, somebody in their neighborhood, somebody they work with,” he said. “And the person-to-person stuff in all of these battleground states like Iowa is going to be what’s key to succeeding.”
Kaine also pushed the Democratic ticket’s positions on such issues as debt-free college, LGBTQ equality, and women’s health care.
Iowa State University senior Zachary Rodgers, the political director for Iowa College Democrats, who cosponsored Kaine’s stop, thought the candidate’s message resonated well with the young voters in the room.
“I think most millennials, regardless of party, are pretty accepting of the LGBT community and women being in control of their own bodies,” Rodgers said.
In a Monday conference call ahead of Kaine’s speech, Iowa GOP head Jeff Kaufmann said the GOP has not written off the millennial vote and that many young voters would be drawn to Trump’s message.
“This group is pretty discerning, and they’re not going to be captured by ridiculous claims that somehow we’re going to have free college education,” Kaufmann said.
Pence talks national security, jobs
For Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, Monday offered a barrage of media appearances to iterate his running mate’s policies as well as familiar attacks on his Democratic opponents.
Pence spoke with Fox News’ Brit Hume and conservative talk-radio hosts Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh in addition to his speeches in Mason City and Dubuque, touching on GOP presidential nominee Trump’s economic, national security, and energy plans.
After a weekend of violence, including an ISIS-linked stabbing attack in Minnesota, Pence underlined his running mate’s pledge to “make America safe again” — a theme Trump made central to his campaign at the Republican National Convention in July.
Pence repeated Republicans’ criticisms of President Obama and Trump’s Democratic rival, Clinton, for their nomenclature of acts of terrorism — “I can’t understand much of their approach,” Pence told Hannity, emphasizing that Trump will “name what we’re fighting against.”
Clinton, on her website includes fighting “radical jihadism” in the outline of her national-security plan.
On the topic on nomenclature, Pence also criticized Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment, saying “that’s just carving up Americans and name-calling. We know better than that.”
“Mike Pence is one-half of a presidential ticket that perpetuates racism, applauds sexism, and encourages violence. There hasn’t been a clearer choice in generations of American elections,” said Iowa Democratic Party head Andy McGuire in a press statement. “Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine represent a forward-looking vision of progress and inclusion that will benefit all of America’s families, not just a select few.”
At a private fundraiser recently, Clinton chastised “half of Trump supporters” for holding “racist, sexist, homophobic, [and] Islamophobic” views. She later expressed regret, saying “I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong.”
Clinton has criticized Trump in campaign speeches for his tweets that have commonly used adjectives such as “dopey,” “wacky,” and “very dumb” to describe his critics.
Speaking at Giese Manufacturing in Dubuque, Pence called Trump a “negotiator-in-chief” who would “repeal every Obama executive order that’s stifling jobs and growth.” He pledged Trump would “cut marginal income taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and working farms,” as well as “lower business tax rates from highest in the world to 15 percent.”
He also praised Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as “the gold standard of conservative governors in America,” specifically for his economic policy — Iowa added 23,700 jobs in the last year according to a Center for Employment Statistics survey.
Branstad has followed the majority of GOP senators in pledging not to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, which Pence said was “on the ballot in 2016.”
“For the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of the sanctity of life, for the sake of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, for the sake of all our God-given liberties,” Pence said, the next president “to make appointments to the Supreme Court will be Donald Trump.”