ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Tim Kaine found his voice on the campaign trail. It was in a local brewery.
After dinner and some local craft beer with his wife and members of his staff Monday night, the Democratic vice presidential candidate walked into Asheville's Catawba Brewing Company and took the stage.
That's when the Virginia senator broke out his harmonica and serenaded a full house.
Kaine's harmonica skills have become a thing of folklore on the campaign trail, and Monday night after a rally in North Carolina, he joined a local band — Nikki Talley and Jason Sharp — for a rendition of the Bob Dylan and Old Crow Medicine Show tune, "Wagon Wheel," while bar patrons sang along.
It didn't stop there.
Kaine and the band broke out into "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains," and the senator sang along to a few verses. That's when his wife, former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, started doing her famous clog dancing — minus the clogs. Holton initially demurred, saying the the beat was a little too slow. But a local woman eventually urged her on.
"Okay, well now I'm going to get one more beer," Kaine said after the songs and singalongs. He settled on a "White Zombie," the brewery's flagship beer.
"That felt great," Kaine said of his harmonica playing. "Nothing makes me more nervous than doing that. But it's good to get our of your comfort zone. Asheville is a pretty good place, huh?"
Kaine's performance places him firmly in the canon of politicians who've showed their musical talents on the campaign trail. Mike Huckabee was known to play his bass guitar, including a performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" in the "Live Free or Die" state of New Hampshire in 2007. And then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton became famous for his saxophone solo medley on "The Aresnio Hall Show" while campaigning for president in 1992.
Earlier in the evening, Kaine held his second rally in North Carolina this month and his first campaign event with his wife since their homecoming rally in Richmond two weeks ago.
Kaine predicted that even though he and Clinton were leading in most national and swing state polls, "this is gonna be a close race."
He also noted that he has never lost an election — "8-0" as he says — yet "I always barely win."
"In fact, here's a career tip: if you're barely likable enough go into politics cause you only need 51%," he told the crowd. "So, this is my secret. But the way I win races, close races is this. This is what I'm putting in my mind. I'm the underdog till they call me the winner."
"We are trying to do something that has never been done in the history of this country," he added. "If it had been easy for a woman to be elected president of the United States, it would have happened already."