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Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine assail Donald Trump as they stump in Florida

Hillary Clinton and her running mate Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine hit the campaign trail in South Florida

  • Kaine and Clinton assail Donald Trump as unfit to lead
  • Florida, the backdrop for the newly minted Democratic ticket, is critical this fall
  • John Kasich continues feud with Trump, suggesting he can’t win must-carry state
  • Trump says he doesn’t want and wouldn’t accept Ted Cruz’s endorsement
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Trump, Pence set to hit the road

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VP pick Tim Kaine is a rarity: People in both parties say nice things about him

Fellow senators on both sides of the aisle have kind words for Virginia’s Tim Kaine.

Not surprisingly, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, praised Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick.

“Through hard work and unimpeachable character, Tim Kaine has become a highly respected member of the Senate — among Democrats and Republicans alike,” Reid said.

More unexpected was the praise from the other side of the partisan divide, including Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who said that “while Hillary Clinton would be a disaster as president, I have high regard and respect for Tim Kaine.”

Toomey, just finishing his first term, is in a tough reelection battle in his home state, where Democrats are converging on Philadelphia for their convention.

Siding with the moderate, likable Kaine might help Toomey broaden his appeal, especially among suburban voters who may have reservations about the GOP nominee, Donald Trump.

The two have worked together on budget bills and legislation to stem opioid addiction and gun violence.

“He is a good choice for the Democratic ticket,” Toomey said.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who isn’t up for reelection this November, also had nice things to say about Kaine.

“Trying to count the ways I hate @timkaine,” Flake wrote on Twitter. “Drawing a blank. Congrats to a good man and a good friend.”

Others offered similar personal praise.

“Just FYI: Tim Kaine isn’t boring,” Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii said in a Twitter testimonial, addressing one of the criticisms of Kaine. “Peace Corps guy, impressive spouse, fluent Spanish, plays harmonica, progressive foreign policy.

“Tim Kaine is a man of great character and qualifications, but he ain’t boring,” Schatz wrote. “He’s one of the more interesting people I know.”

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California RNC delegate is 16th norovirus case, forced to remain in Ohio

Another case of norovirus was reported Saturday among Californians who had attended the Republican National Convention, bring the total to at least 16 people, according to state party officials.

This person — a delegate — attended the convention Thursday as Donald Trump claimed the GOP nomination. Most of the 550-member California delegation left the state the following day, but this latest virus victim had to remain at the group’s hotel in Sandusky, Ohio, over the weekend.

The delegation was first warned of the outbreak by state GOP officials in an early-morning email Tuesday and advised to avoid shaking hands with others, to wash hands frequently, to avoid sharing food and to not use the delegation buses to the convention if they had any symptoms.

At least 14 state party staffers, more than a third of the staff in Ohio, was quarantined in their hotel rooms at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky.

Norovirus, a stomach bug that has gained notoriety in recent years for making hundreds of people ill aboard cruise ships, typically occurs in crowded settings such as day care centers and nursing homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It affects 19 million to 21 million people in the United States annually.

The symptoms — stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea — are generally short-lived but can be dangerous and even fatal, especially for the elderly and the very young.

State party officials warned delegates who had returned home to report any symptoms to local health officials and to thoroughly disinfect all of their belongings that they brought home from the convention.

“The health department encouraged our staff to wash everything that they brought with them and to use Clorox wipes, or something similar, to clean hard surfaces, such as your badges,” state party executive director Cynthia Bryant wrote in an email to the delegation Saturday.

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Hillary Clinton picked Tim Kaine to emphasize her message that she’s the responsible choice, not Trump

(Michael Reynolds / EPA)

In another election, Hillary Clinton might have been tempted to choose a different kind of running mate.

She could have fired up the party base with a staunch progressive, or reinforced her own historic candidacy with another woman or a Latino.

But this is no ordinary year. And Clinton’s choice of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine reflects how she is running against Donald Trump: Kaine will help her emphasize that she is the responsible candidate who belongs in the Oval Office, not the billionaire real estate magnate and reality TV star.

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Hillary Clinton uses Florida, a critical swing state, to introduce Tim Kaine

(Al Diaz / Miami Herald)

It’s among the most competitive of battleground states, shifting back and forth between voting for Democrats and Republicans in recent elections.

And on Saturday its importance was on full display when Hillary Clinton chose Florida as the backdrop to introduce her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, to the nation.

Florida possesses 29 critical electoral votes, and recent polling shows a close battle there between Clinton and Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee.

The state, with its increasing Latino electorate, voted narrowly in support of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. In 2000, only after a recount and legal battles all the way up to the Supreme Court, did the state go to George W. Bush. Four years later, it clearly voted Republican, helping propel Bush to a second term.

With less than four months until election day, polling in the state has been mixed.

Based on an average of polls from Real Clear Politics, Clinton’s advantage in the state is less than 1 percentage point. A recent Marist College poll for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal showed her up 7 percentage points over Trump. By contrast, a Quinnipiac poll found Trump up 3 points.

For Clinton, support and turnout from the state’s growing Latino electorate is crucial.

Latinos in Florida used to be mostly Republican-leaning Cubans. But the Cuban population has become more Democratic in recent elections, and a growing Puerto Rican population has shifted the balance even further in the Democrats’ direction.

Along with Colorado and Nevada, Florida is one of three battleground states where Latinos are likely to make up more than 10% of the electorate this year.

In the Marist survey, Latinos supported Clinton over Trump by 21 percentage points.

Clinton’s play for the backing of Latinos was on full display Saturday with Kaine, who is fluent in Spanish. The Virginia senator jabbed Trump, whose inflammatory rhetoric about Mexicans in the country illegally -- alluding to them as “rapists” -- has hurt his support with all Latinos.

“Bienvenidos a todos en nuestro pais. Porque somos Americanos todos,” Kaine said in Spanish at the outset of his speech.

Translation: “Welcome to everyone in our country, because we are all Americans.”

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Tim Kaine — a normal guy?

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Tim Kaine showcases his Spanish

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Hillary Clinton praises Tim Kaine as ‘everything’ Donald Trump is not

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Ohio governor continues feud with Trump, suggesting he can’t win must-carry state

The Republican National Convention may be in the rear-view mirror, but the fratricidal skirmishing continues even as much of the political world has moved on to Philadelphia for next week’s Democratic confab.

Donald Trump, playing the sore winner, celebrated his nomination with a verbal strafing of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, his arch foe from the primaries. Cruz’s vote-your-conscience-in-November speech at the GOP convention was one of the high or low points, depending upon how you view Cruz and Trump.

But the more consequential spat may be the one Trump and his team picked with Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Delegates hadn’t even finished unpacking their elephant pins and other pachyderm paraphernalia when Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, unloaded on Kasich, another former rival of Trump’s, hitting him for refusing to endorse the GOP nominee or even set foot inside the convention hall. Kasich was ubiquitous everywhere else in and around Cleveland.

The week-long carping between the Trump and Kasich camps, which included Kasich criticizing Trump’s statements about possibly not defending NATO allies — continued into the weekend when Kasich, in an interview with Phillynews.com, poor-mouthed Trump’s chances of carrying Ohio in November.

A “divider” like Trump will have a hard time winning Ohio, Kasich said. “Ohio’s a snapshot of the country. People in Ohio want a positive way forward.”

Not that Kasich plans to go out and actively campaign against Trump.

“I don’t want to do that. That’s not my interest,” said the governor. “And we’ll see what happens in the future, but right now there, there’s just too many differences.”

The Trump-Cruz throwdown may be entertaining for those who like their politics hot and personally nasty. But Trump’s estrangement from Kasich could be far more consequential for the election.

Trump isn’t likely to lose Cruz’s home state. If Trump did lose Texas, Hillary Clinton could be on her way to a Reagan-style landslide, which would be a big surprise in such a highly polarized political era.

Ohio is different. It’s the classic swing state, and polls show the contest to be highly competitive. A friendly and popular governor talking up Trump certainly would help. An unfriendly and popular governor dumping all over Trump... not so much,

And there’s this: No Republican has even won the White House without carrying Ohio.

Maybe Trump would have been better holding his convention in, say, Nebraska.

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Clinton-Kaine ticket set to debut in Miami

When it was clear that Hillary Clinton would unveil her running mate in Miami, it was one more tea leaf that pointed to Tim Kaine, a fluent Spanish speaker.

The pair will debut before voters in this key voting region of the uber-important battleground state, on the campus of Florida International University.

Frank Mora, director of the university’s Latin American and Caribbean Center, said it’s “no accident”: The university is the largest minority-serving institution in the country, with a student body that is 61% Hispanic.

A former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere, Mora said Kaine can be a real asset to Clinton in ethnically diverse communities like this “not just because he speaks Spanish,” but because of the depth of his experience on regional issues.

“This is not the first time he’s going to speak to a Latino community,” Mora said.

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Tim Kaine’s strengths for the Democratic ticket are evident to California lawmaker

(Cliff Owen / Associated Press)

When asked to assess what Sen. Tim Kaine brings to the Democratic ticket, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) recalls a trip he took overseas with him in 2014.

After stops in Tunisia and Morocco, they visited U.S. service members stationed at a naval base in Rota, Spain.

“I was so jealous watching him switch effortlessly to Spanish and speak with a beautiful Honduran accent,” Schiff recalled. “In our travel together, he displayed keen understanding of the foreign policy issues affecting the three different countries. He easily struck up a rapport with those that we met with.”

Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, worked closely with Kaine on national security issues, chiefly on drafting legislation that would authorize the U.S. military’s campaign against Islamic State.

The Obama administration and congressional leaders have insisted that the current campaign is sanctioned by a broad authority granted in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to take military action against those responsible.

But the two lawmakers are among those who believed that new legislation was required as the fight against terrorism has spread beyond the initial campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“We both independently had an interest in making sure that Congress lived up to its institutional responsibility to declare war, and we were both very concerned about the precedent that we were setting,” he said. “You could tell it was a matter of deep principle for him.”

Kaine’s fluency in Spanish, which he learned while working with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras during a break from law school, would be a major asset, Schiff said.

“A Latino elected official brings a certain attraction to the ticket among Latino voters that’s unique. But I also think someone who speaks such beautiful Spanish can very effectively make the case for the ticket to Latino audiences, and Spanish language media,” he said. “It’s not quite the same as a Latino official. But nonetheless very effective.”

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President Obama says Tim Kaine is a ‘progressive fighter’

President Obama considered naming Tim Kaine as his running mate eight years ago. Now, he says he’s “proud” that Hillary Clinton has tapped the Virginia senator as her number two.

“This job is also about surrounding yourself with the best possible people. And there’s no more important decision you’ll make as a presidential candidate than choosing a vice president,” Obama wrote in a fundraising email to supporters.

“That’s why I picked Joe Biden — and it’s a testament to Hillary’s character and integrity that she chose a man like Tim Kaine.”

Obama described Kaine as “an optimist” and said that, “like Hillary, he is also a progressive fighter.”

That comment was clearly aimed at reassuring those liberal activists who are already expressing disappointment in the selection of someone they see as overly moderate.

Obama and Kaine first met in 2005 when Obama, then a newly elected senator from Illinois, campaigned with Kaine as he sought to become Virginia’s governor. In 2007, Gov. Kaine became the first statewide official outside of Illinois to endorse Obama over Hillary Clinton. He later served as Democratic National Committee chairman for the first two years of Obama’s presidency.

“There aren’t a lot of elected officials in Washington whom people like even more when the cameras are off than when the cameras are on. But Tim is that kind of guy,” Obama said.

“Simply put: Tim is a good man. He’s a true progressive. And he will make a great vice president.”

The White House said this week that it was “natural” that Clinton might have consulted with Obama on her choice.

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Bernie Sanders allies push for end to Democratic superdelegate system

The role of superdelegates has been a fault line throughout the Democratic primary, and the issue could finally be settled here on Saturday afternoon.

Two days before the start of their national convention, Democrats are gathering to debate whether superdelegates — party leaders and elected officials who can vote at the nominating convention for any presidential candidate they want — should continue to play the same role in influencing future contests.

This year, superdelegates heavily backed Hillary Clinton, although they are not why she won the nomination. She also won the popular vote and earned more pledged delegates.

But Clinton’s overwhelming support among superdelegates, including many who pledged to back her before the first votes were counted earlier this year, has become a controversial symbol of how the Democratic establishment lined up against insurgent candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primary.

Opponents of the superdelegate system, which was set up more than two decades ago, fear political insiders could be used to override primary voters in the future.

“This is not about this election,” said Diane Russell, a Maine state representative. “This is about a generation of elections going forward.”

The Sanders campaign has suggested two proposals that would neuter superdelegates. The first would eliminate them altogether. The second would dramatically reduce their number — only elected officials could serve as superdelegates, not party officials. Representatives for Clinton and Sanders have been locked in negotiations on the issue.

Superdelegates currently make up about about 15% of the total number of delegates. The position was created as an attempt to balance the voices of voters and political insiders after the landslide defeats of Democratic candidates George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Democrats pushing for an end to the superdelegate system said they have enough support to bring the issue to the convention floor if they’re not successful during Saturday’s committee meeting, raising the possibility of a high-profile, drawn-out battle.

“We want the Democratic Party to leave Philadelphia fired up,” said Aaron Regunberg, a Rhode Island state representative. “There’s no better step than eliminating this undemocratic structure.”

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Opinion: With law and order his priority, Trump declares, ‘I am your voice’

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