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Vice Presidential Debate

Tim Kaine: ‘Trump As Commander-in-Chief Scares Me To Death’

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine on Tuesday assailed Donald Trump in an extensive speech focused on condemning what he sees as the Republican nominee's "disqualifying" foreign policy visions.

"He has a bizarre fascination with strongmen and authoritarian leaders in countries that are no allies of the United States, and with respect to our allies, he would toss alliances aside, and says he wants to 'take everything back from the world that we've given to them,'" Kaine charged. "Trump has offered empty promises and divisive rhetoric. Under his leadership, we would be unrecognizable to the rest of the world. And we would be far less safe."

Trump, Clinton Highlight National Security Endorsements 9:44

Kaine's speech took place inside the Hannah S. Block Historic USO Building in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, a historic space that dates back to World War II. A number of veterans and military families call home to areas around the city. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune — where Kaine's eldest son has been based — is roughly an hour north and Fort Bragg in Fayetteville is about two hours away.

"I trust Hillary Clinton to make these decisions with full knowledge that the life of my son and his friends may be riding on the outcome," Kaine said. "And the prospect of the emotionally volatile, fact-challenged, self-obsessed and inexperienced Donald Trump as commander-in-chief scares me to death."

Kaine touted his experience with the Virginia National Guard when he was governor and on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, and said that when it comes to military issues like these, "I take it personally" because his son is serving overseas.

Kaine spoke from a teleprompter but veered off script on occasion throughout his wide-ranging speech, knocking the real estate mogul on a slew of national security issues, including Trump mistaking the Quds for the Kurds on Hugh Hewitt's radio show earlier this year, appearing to be stumped by what a nuclear triad was, comments on nuclear weapons, and previous statements on both Iraq and Libya that conflict with his current positions.

Kaine quoted a recent story in Foreign Affairs by saying, "groups like ISIS are actually kind of rooting for Trump." The story, he noted, included interviews with a "number of jihadists, and many of them are hoping for Trump to succeed in the campaign. They've even put out recruitment videos featuring him since Donald Trump's talk of this un-American banning of all Muslims plays right into their hands for propaganda purposes."

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Kaine's remarks.

The Virginia senator has been lambasting Trump for what he calls the campaign's "cozy" relationship with Russia. But on Tuesday he extended that attack to include Trump's previous assertion that NATO is "obsolete," the Republican Party's platform change to weaken a commitment to defending Ukraine, Trump's statements that Russian President Vladimir Putin wouldn't go into Ukraine despite the country's invasion of Crimea, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's resignation amid concerns about ties to the pro-Russia government in Ukraine.

"Each one of these positions stands in stark opposition to decades of American national security goals," Kaine said. "But they match up perfectly with Vladimir Putin's wish-list. It has to make you wonder. Hillary Clinton has proven she can work with Putin if it's in our interest, but that she can stand up to him too when he is taking steps that are against our interest."

Kaine's remarks come as a preview of what viewers might see at the NBC News Commander-In-Chief Forum Wednesday night, where both Clinton and Trump will take questions on a slew of national security, military, and veterans affairs issues.