Retired Virginia U.S. Senator John Warner, a Republican, gave a ringing endorsement of the Democratic Clinton-Kaine ticket at an event in Alexandria yesterday morning. He was introduced by current U.S. Senator and vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine who was making his first public appearance in Northern Virginia since being nominated for vice president in July.
The event, attended by a couple dozen decorated military veterans, was built around the John Warner endorsement. The veteran lawmaker, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate, most as chair or ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and was also the Secretary of the Navy, was sharp in his support for Clinton and also in his criticism of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, though mentioning Trump by name only once at the very end of his comments.
While calling Clinton “firm, fair and respectful” in Monday’s televised debate, the 89-year-old Northern Virginia resident said that “that last quality is totally lacking on the other side.” He assailed Trump’s “audacity to degrade the Purple Heart and the military,” which he said is “the strongest in the world and not in shambles.”
The Pentagon, he said, “Is just as vibrant as when I was there.” In a final comment, he said that when he was in boot camp as an 18-year-old in 1945, with World War II still going on, there was a sign posted for everyone to see that said, “Loose lips sink ships,” and added, “Got that, Trump?”
Kaine introduced Warner saying he has been a friend of his wife’s family (her father being former Virginia governor Lynwood Holton) for over 70 years. He is one who’s “always put country and the commonwealth first,” working in a bipartisan manner often. Warner’s endorsement of Clinton, however, marks the first time he’s done that for a Democrat presidential candidate.
Warner, in turn, called Kaine “a beautiful man, inside and out with unquestioned integrity,” and said that, as the U.S. remains the leader of the free world and is looked to that way, Clinton is “firm, experienced and fundamentally understands how we as a nation got here.” This is not a matter of “National Security for Dummies,” he quipped.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner, who opened the event with remarks, described John Warner and Kaine as “two of the most decent human beings, not politicians, but human beings,” saying he first knew Kaine in 1980 when both were in the Harvard Law School.
In coming back to Northern Virginia, Kaine addressed a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. the night before that included a large contingent of Virginians, among them Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
The night before, Kaine had been at a rally at the location of the Pulse nightclub in in Orlando, Florida where he’d been deeply moved, he said, because he’d prayed when the Virginia Tech massacre occurred when he was governor of Virginia in 2007 that he’d never see anything as massive as that tragedy occur again. While 32 died then, 59 died in the Pulse shooting.
Kaine bases a lot of his campaign narrative on the time when he took a year off from law school to join a Jesuit missionary effort in Honduras, which also proved useful because he learned to speak fluent Spanish while there. He learned a lot, he said, from the dedicated missionaries there, but also from the people themselves.
He said said that his most formative life experience was the 17 years he spent as a civil rights attorney in Richmond, fighting housing discrimination throughout Virginia and the south, advocating usually on behalf of persons who had no one else to stand up for them.
While he compared his experiences, including in public life from the time he was elected to the Richmond City Council, then as mayor, then as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, governor and now U.S. Senator, with those of Hillary Clinton, he contrasts them to Donald Trump and his disdain for minorities.
The debate Monday night demonstrated that Clinton is “fit, and has the substance” to be the president. He noted that the nation was founded in 1776 by those who established the ideal of equality, even while it was far from realized at first.
“But equality has been this nation’s North Star,” he said. Fighting a civil war in the 1860s for it, granting women’s suffrage in 1919 for it, and LGBT equality for it more recently, “as a nation we’ve made adjustments to be more equal, in fact.”
Now, he said, “We need to orient to it, not away from it, by electing the first woman president.”
What binds Democrats, who are often very different, Kaine said, “is that we are ‘underdog people.’” Invoking his faith-based missionary days, he said “We are good Samaritans. When we see someone lying beside the road, we don’t just pass them by. That’s who Hillary Clinton is, and has been all her life.”