Tim Kaine, the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee, spoke to an enthusiastic audience of mostly students in Tomsich Arena in the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) this evening. U.S. Secret Service estimated the crowd contained 1,100 people, according to a representative of the Clinton campaign.
Kaine urged the audience to vote early, praised Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s policy proposals and criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s behavior on the campaign trail. The hour-long speech was punctuated with Trump impressions (from “Believe me” to “You’re a loser”) and was interrupted approximately halfway by unintelligible shouts from a group of student protestors holding up a large banner that read, “Water is life. What side of history will you be on? #NoDAPL,” referring to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Kaine was visibly unmoved but repeated the beginning of one sentence several times in an attempt to speak over the students.
And, yes, Kaine was familiar with Kenyon College: He began by telling the audience that his childhood best friend attended Kenyon, where he studied Greek and Latin, though Kaine himself never visited campus.
“My high school grades wouldn’t have gotten me into Kenyon,” Kaine said as he began his speech, “but I made it to Kenyon!”
He closed the speech with a similarly personal touch, thanking the Kenyon Lords and Ladies.
Kaine recounted the moment Clinton offered him the position as running mate, describing himself as “overeager” by immediately accepting before Clinton could explain why she was choosing him, and he discussed each of the major points of the Clinton-Kaine ticket’s platform. Kaine’s proclamation of raising the minimum wage garnered perhaps the most applause of the entire speech, and the volume increased when he added that he and Clinton would enact equal pay for women for equal work.
Throughout the speech, Kaine rebuked Trump’s campaign and platform. “This is a country we’re trying to run here, not a reality TV show,” Kaine said in a particularly pointed remark. He also condemned Trump’s treatment of women (“I think that it’s really hard for him to look at a woman and see an equal”) and of Americans in general (“If he has such a low opinion of us, he shouldn’t be running to be president of the United States”).
Students were evidently eager to hear Kaine: An hour and a half before the event, there was already a long line of students waiting outside the doors of the KAC. President Sean Decatur and several members of the Board of the Trustees also joined the crowd, in addition to a sizable group of faculty and staff. While the early arrivals waited for Kaine to take the stage, a capella groups the Owl Creeks and the Kokosingers serenaded the audience. Alissa Cravens, the Kenyon College campus organizer for the Democratic grassroots campaign Ohio Together, introduced Kaine.
Though attendees immediately flocked to Kaine when he stepped off the stage to shake hands and take a selfie, not all were uplifted by the speech. A group of four students decrying the Dakota Access Pipeline hoped to grab Kaine’s attention with their banner. During the speech, Emma Schurink ’17 held up a Clinton-Kaine sign emblazoned with the text “#NoDAPL.” These students support Hillary Clinton, they said, but hope Kaine will make a statement on the Pipeline.
“It’s disappointing to hear Kaine commenting on how he’s for the underdog and how he cares about the environment and water access when their campaign won’t comment on this,” Kayla Glazer ’17 said.
By 6:30 p.m., Tomsich Arena had been cleared out. Upbeat pop music continued to fill the arena as members of the press typed up their recaps of the evening. Soon, there was nothing left but stepped-on campaign posters lying by the stage and a scoreboard reading “20:16; Clinton: 20, Kaine: 16.”