FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine unleashed on Donald Trump’s past comments on military issues while campaigning here Tuesday in an area heavily populated with service members and their families.
“Donald Trump says, 'I'm gonna be great for the military,’” Kaine said during a rally. “Donald Trump repeatedly during the Republican debates and since has said, 'The American military is a disaster.' 'The American military is a disaster.' This is the guy who wants to be commander-in-chief. I don't think in the history of the United States there has been a major party nominee who has talked with such disrespect about the military.”
The Virginia senator mentioned the millions of Americans who volunteer for service, saying, “We need a commander-in-chief who will not talk about them with contempt and disrespect, but will talk about them with respect and compassion and support. Anybody who says 'the American military is a disaster’ is unfit to be commander in chief. Unfit. He's unfit.” When Kaine used that line, the audience of roughly 350 people stood up to a standing ovation.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kaine was speaking in Fayetteville, the fifth-largest metropolitan area in North Carolina and also the home to a very sizable population of military families because of Fort Bragg, the large army base just 10 miles away.
Since being chosen as Hillary Clinton’s running mate more than three weeks ago, Kaine has been continually assailing Trump on issues of military support, but took his attacks steps further when he visited here.
He resurrected his attacks on Trump based on the GOP nominee’s claim last summer that Sen. John McCain “is not a war hero” because he was capatured and Trump’s words that, “I like people who weren’t captured.”
“Could you be more thick headed, insensitive or ignorant than that?” Kaine asked. “It's unbelievable that those words would come out of anybody's mouth, much less the mouth of somebody who wants to be commander-in-chief.”
The senator invoked his own son, Nat, a member of the U.S. Marines currently serving overseas, who has been based at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune. He acknowledged the stakes he feels in talking about military family issues. “Maybe I feel this a little bit extra having a kid in the military,” he said.
In addition to trying to tie Trump’s tax issues to military support — a common argument from Kaine on the trail — the senator on Tuesday also tried to compare how Hillary Clinton reacted to family members who were killed in Benghazi speaking at the RNC to Trump’s reaction to the Khan family’s speech at the DNC.
At one point, the senator asked how many people in the room were either in the military or had a connection to military servicemembers and a sizable portion raised their hand. “We can’t make military service look easy. It's always going to be hard,” he said. “But we can make the life of military families a little bit easier.”
Kaine’s North Carolina trip also marks the first time his wife, former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, joined him on the campaign trail since their bus tour with the Clintons two weeks ago and homecoming rally in Richmond.
Kaine continues to promise he’s going to devote plenty of time to the Tar Heel state, telling the crowd on Tuesday, “We are not in North Carolina by accident. We are here because we are going to win North Carolina.”
This was the senator’s third rally and second trip to the state this month. Monday night in Asheville, he joined the band playing at a local brewery and serenaded the crowd with his harmonica.