A day before Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were set to face off in the first head-to-head presidential debate, Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine was at Miami Dade College’s Kendall campus trying to garner votes — especially from 18- to 35-year-olds.
His strategy: A 45-second sales pitch to millennials hitting on issues important to them, including immigration reform, climate science, women’s health care, LGBTQ equality, equal pay for women and affordable education.
“Hillary and I are with you,” he said to an eager crowd. “The other guys are against you.”
Kaine’s entrance on a makeshift stage came after several supporters spoke about getting the Democratic candidates elected to address gun control laws, the economy and other critical issues.
“We need to make sure Donald Trump doesn’t get anywhere near the White House,” Debbie Powell, state Senate candidate for District 39, told a roaring crowd.
Among the speakers: Former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who began his speech with a moment of silence for Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed early Sunday in a boat crash.
“This is a day of sadness for our community,” Graham said. “We all feel a sense of knowing him.”
Graham then switched gears to the election, saying he is proud to support Clinton and Kaine.
“On to victory,” he said.
Kaine has made several appearances in South Florida since Clinton named the Virginia senator her running mate at Florida International University in July.
Kaine, who switched between English and Spanish throughout his nearly 30-minute speech, said Florida is very important to a Democratic win.
“Florida is very, very close,” he said. “You guys only do close.”
With Florida being the nation’s largest swing state, both candidates will have appearances in the state this week.
Trump will be in Miami Tuesday for a fundraiser. Clinton will be in Broward and St. Lucie counties Friday.
Davier Rodriguez, the Florida Democratic Party campus organizer, said with Clinton and Kaine “there is hope and there is a plan.”
“As someone who is queer, Latino and an educator, I see myself in her plan,” he said to a round of applause. “That’s because she values inclusion.”
For 19-year-old Daniel Rodriguez, who is registered as an independent, the event was “eye opening.” Rodriguez, a student at the University of Miami, said he came because he “didn’t really know anything about [Kaine].”
“I’m sold,” said Rodriguez, who was particularly pleased with the Democratic team’s plan to make higher education more affordable. “He’s like the cool uncle of America.”
Kaine also took some time to pump up the crowd about Monday’s debate, asking the audience to elect the nation’s first woman president.
“Look, [Trump] is a good talker,” Kaine said, adding that his problem is in having to answer questions. “Donald Trump has had a problem with specifics so far.”
As for Clinton, Kaine predicted Clinton will win. “When the lights are bright, she brings her A-plus game,” he said.