PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork) — Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine said Wednesday that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was “ready” for the White House and would live up to her principles of fighting for justice and helping others.
Speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia as he accepted his nomination, the Virginia senator also said Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump could not be trusted to live up to anything he said.
An instrumental version of the 1966 Temptations classic “Get Ready” accompanied Kaine onto the podium. He began by speaking about his own background, Kaine recalled the lessons learned in attending a Jesuit Catholic boys’ school for high school. He said he took heed of the motto “men for others.”
“That’s where my faith became vital, a North Star for orienting my life. And I knew that I wanted to fight for social justice,” he said.
Kaine said it inspired him to take a year off law school and volunteer with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, where he taught children welding and carpentry.
“And here’s what really struck me. I got a first-hand look at a system – a dictatorship – where a few people at the top had all the power and everyone else got left out. It convinced me that we’ve got to advance opportunity for everyone. No matter where they come from, how much money they have, what they look like, how they worship, or who they love,” Kaine said.
Kaine later went on to run for city council in what he called a “divided and discouraged” city of Richmond, Virginia, where he said gun violence overwhelmed low-income neighborhoods, and “people were casting blames and finding answers. I couldn’t stand it.”
Kaine went on to be elected mayor of Richmond, lieutenant governor of Virginia, and the 70th governor of Virginia.
Now in the U.S. Senate, Kaine serves on the Armed Services, Foreign Relations and Aging committees, as well as on the Budget Committee with former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – whom Kaine called “a great leader.”
“We all should ‘feel the Bern,’ and we all should not want to get burned by the other guy,” Kaine said as some of the delegates chanted “Bernie! Bernie!” and Sanders himself applauded quietly.
“My journey has convinced me that God has created a rich tapestry in this country – an incredible cultural diversity that succeeds when we embrace everyone in love and battle back against the dark forces of division. We’re all neighbors and we must love our neighbors as ourselves,” he said.
Kaine, who speaks fluent Spanish, said he and Clinton were “compañeros del alma,” or soul mates, in terms of their values.
“We share this belief: Do all the good you can. Serve one another. That’s what I’m about. That’s what you’re about. That’s what Bernie Sanders is about. That’s what Joe Biden is about. That’s what Barack and Michelle Obama are about. And that’s what Hillary Clinton is about,” she said.
He credited Clinton with consistent efforts to put kids and families first since her teenage times and fight for the underprivileged. He also noted that as a U.S. senator, Clinton battled congressional Republicans to care for first responders after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that as secretary of state, she implemented tough sanctions against Iran and stood up to “thugs and dictators.”
But Kaine said rival Trump is motivated by his own ego, saying while Clinton’s passion is “kids and families,” Trump’s is “himself.”
“Trump is a guy who promises a lot. But you might have noticed, he’s got a way of saying the same two words right after he makes his biggest, ‘yugest’ promises. ‘Believe me! It’s going to be great, believe me!’” Kaine said, doing an impression of Trump’s voice as he read the quotes.
“Here’s the thing. Most people, when they run for president, they don’t just say ‘believe me,’” Kaine said. “They respect you enough to tell you how they will get things done.”
He said Clinton has actual plans to invest in new jobs, build on Wall Street reform, reform the immigration and create a path to citizenship, make it possible to graduate college debt free, and guarantee equal pay for women and paid family leave.
“Not Donald Trump,” Kaine said. “He never tells you how he’s going to do any of the things he says he’s going to do. He just says, ‘believe me.’ So here’s the question. Do you really believe him? Donald Trump’s whole career says you better not.”
Kaine said small contractors believed Trump when he said he would pay them to build a casino in Atlantic City, but said they got pennies on the dollar because Trump filed for bankruptcy.
“Folks, you cannot believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Not one word,” Kaine said, briefly starting a chant of “not one word.”
“Our nation is too great to put it in the hands of a slick-talking, empty-promising, self-promoting, one man wrecking crew,” he continued.
Clinton, by contrast, is ready for the job, Kaine said. He said he had a specific reason for using the word “ready.”
“When I lived in Honduras, I learned that the best compliment you could give someone was to say they were “listo” – ready. Not “inteligente” – smart. Not “amable” – friendly. Not “rico” – rich. But “listo.” Because what “listo” means in Spanish is prepared, battle-tested, rock-solid, up for anything, never backing down. And Hillary Clinton is “lista.”
“She’s ready because of her faith. She’s ready because of her heart. She’s ready because of her experience. She’s ready because she knows in America we are stronger together,” he said.
Clinton offered Kaine the vice presidential spot on the Democratic ticket in a phone call this past Friday night. President Barack Obama advised Clinton’s campaign during the selection process that Kaine would be a strong choice.