At FSU, Tim Kaine makes Clinton campaign’s plea for early voting, new gun laws

Democratic vice presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks at campaign rally at Florida State University, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, in Tallahassee.
Democratic vice presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks at campaign rally at Florida State University, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, in Tallahassee. AP

Tim Kaine was in a motorcade speeding across Florida’s capital when news broke Friday that the FBI was reviewing new Hillary Clinton emails it uncovered.

Faced with reporters minutes later outside early voting at the Leon County Courthouse, the Democratic nominee for vice president deflected.

“I’ve got to read a little more,” he said.

The renewed interest in Clinton’s emails and Kaine’s Florida swing comes as the Clinton campaign ramps up efforts here in the final week before the election. President Barack Obama rallied voters Friday in Orlando, and Clinton is expected to return to Miami Saturday at a Jennifer Lopez concert.

Inside Oglesby Union on the FSU campus, Kaine made the case for why this state matters.

“Florida is checkmate,” the Virginia senator said. “Why don’t you change your name already from the Sunshine State to the Really Close Election State?”

Polls show Clinton up by 0.7 percentage points in Florida, according to the RealClearPolitics.com average.

With Donald Trump saying the election could be “rigged,” the Clinton campaign is trying hard to shore up not just a victory but wide margins in swing states like Florida. And it’s hoping that momentum can carry down ballot to congressional races and the Senate fight between Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Kaine lambasted Rubio for supporting Trump after calling the Republican presidential nominee “dangerous” and a “con artist.”

As well as emphasizing early voting, Kaine stumped for new gun laws, appearing alongside former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly. Giffords, severely injured in a mass shooting in Tucson, started a left-leaning political committee called Americans for Responsible Solutions that supports candidates who favor gun control.

In a statement, the National Rifle Association urged Floridians to vote against Clinton and Murphy.

“This election is about the right of law-abiding Americans to keep a firearm in their home for self-protection — and that means it’s about the Supreme Court,” spokeswoman Amy Hunter said in a statement.

Less than two years ago, a gunman shot and injured three people at Strozier Library on the Florida State University campus.

Kaine didn’t talk about the 2014 shooting, but he did call attention to two deadly shootings that captured national attention: One at Virginia Tech University when Kaine was the state’s governor and the June shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

“After the shooting at Virginia Tech, there was one thing I hoped,” Kaine said. “And that was that there would never be a shooting worse than the shooting at Virginia Tech.”

Pulse was worse. Forty-nine people died in the shooting at the gay nightclub’s Latin night.

“We’ve got a sickness, folks,” Kaine said. “We’ve got a sickness, and we’ve got to do better.”

Contact Michael Auslen at mauslen@tampabay.com. Follow @MichaelAuslen.