ANNANDALE, Va. -- As the political world was engrossed in the spectacle surrounding Donald Trump’s impending vice presidential announcement, Hillary Clinton auditioned a possible running mate here on Thursday in a small, plain community college gymnasium.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Clinton strolled on the stage together, smiling and waving for their first solo campaign appearance in what many consider a final test before she makes her selection.
Kaine has been knocked in the past for not being the most scorching speaker that there is and some have questioned whether he has the fire inside to constantly take aim at Donald Trump while he stumps on the campaign trail.
And on his home soil, Kaine launched attacks at Trump from all sides.
“Do you want a trash-talker president or a bridge-builder president?” he asked his home state crowd to roaring cheers.
“Donald Trump trash talks women, trash talks folks with disabilities, he trash talks Latinos, to him it doesn’t matter if you are a new immigrant or a worker who has been here a long time or if you are a Latina governor of New Mexico,” he continued. “He is going to trash talk you.”
Kaine continued to blast the presumptive Republican nominee for his lawsuits over Trump University, not releasing his taxes, for Trump’s comments claiming John McCain isn’t a war hero, and for his remarks on the military.
“Donald Trump is a guy who wants to be commander-in-chief who has said repeatedly, the American military is a disaster,” Kaine charged.
Not long after he took the stage, the Virginia senator spoke about his time doing missionary work in Honduras and whipped out his fluent Spanish speaking skills -- a high-value characteristic for any potential running mate – while he gave the audience a vocabulary lesson on what it means to be “ready.”
After Kaine introduced her, a beaming Clinton hugged Kaine and thanked him for his “leadership” and said he was “absolutely on the mark” with all his Trump criticisms.
Aides say Clinton, who is very involved at this stage, is narrowing her short list and one of the most important considerations will be chemistry and personal connection with the candidate.
On Thursday, Clinton and Kaine seemed fairly comfortable heaping praise on each other and navigated the stage together with ease.
The pair haven’t known each other as long as other potential picks, so Thursday was a good opportunity for some face time. Kaine has long been listed as one of Clinton’s top potential VP picks, and they last campaigned together before the Virginia primary earlier this year.
Before their joint rally, Clinton attended a Democratic Senate lunch on Capitol Hill with Sens. Kaine, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Clinton told reporters it was “a great conversation” that “focused on the very positive difference that Democrats want to make in the lives of Americans, particularly when it comes to economic opportunity.”
After the meeting, Kaine joined Clinton’s motorcade but rode in his own vehicle, aides said.
Last week, Clinton huddled with top advisors involved in the vetting process for a long day of meetings at her Washington home. The former secretary of state, along with veteran lawyer James Hamilton and longtime aide Cheryl Mills, met with eight different teams for roughly hour-long meetings.
Clinton is expected to announce her vice presidential choice late next week, according to people familiar with the planning, before heading into the Democratic National Convention.