Kaine: Pick ‘you’re hired’ not ‘you’re fired’ president

Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Grand Rapids – Donald Trump would be a “trash-talking,” “me-first” president, Democratic vice presidential hopeful Tim Kaine said Friday in Grand Rapids, beating up on the Republican nominee in a speech that largely focused on the businessman’s differences with Hillary Clinton.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine speaks to a packed house at the Wealthy Theatre on Friday evening in Grend Rapids.

“Do you want a ‘you’re hired’ president or a ‘you’re fired’ president?” Kaine asked an enthusiastic crowd at the Wealthy Theatre, mimicking Trump’s signature line on his reality television show, “The Apprentice.”

Trump will be remembered for those two words after this election, when he has lost, Kaine said: “You’re fired.”

The visit came on the heels of a Detroit News-WDIV poll of Michigan voters showing Clinton has opened up a nine-point lead here and is outperforming Trump in most areas of the state, including the traditional Republican stronghold of west Michigan, where Grand Rapids is emerging as a liberal pocket.

Kaine helped local Democrats open a coordinated campaign office, and he and other officials used the rally to tout Clinton’s 100-day jobs plan. Kaine was continuing a week-long jobs tour he and Clinton launched last weekend in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“While we’ve been talking about jobs, Donald Trump has been shadow boxing with every last person and not focusing on what matters the most to Americans,” Kaine said in his roughly 15-minute speech, referencing Trump’s recent spat with the Muslim family of a U.S. solider killed in Iraq in 2004.

Trump is scheduled to outline his economic agenda Monday at the Detroit Economic Club in what his campaign is calling a “major” policy speech.

But Kaine criticized Trump for not offering more specific economic plans up to this point.

“Trump tends to just say, ‘Believe me,’” he said. “He doesn’t give you the details.”

Clinton is set to visit Michigan for a fundraiser on Wednesday. Details of the visit have not yet been announced and it is not clear if she will be holding any public events.

Her 100-day jobs plan, which critics say would be difficult to get through Congress if Republicans maintain majorities, includes large government spending increases in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy and scientific research.

The Democratic nominee has also vowed to increase the minimum wage and proposed an “exit tax” to deter companies from leaving the United States by merging with a smaller foreign firm.

The plan “looks like it was written for Michigan,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, who introduced Kaine and emphasized Clinton’s proposed $275 billion investment to fix aging infrastructure, “including what’s happened to the people of Flint.”

Clinton, who highlighted the Flint water contamination crisis in her nomination acceptance speech last week, has said she’d pay for her proposed investments by revising the tax code to ensure the wealthy, big corporations and financial institutions pay “their fair share.”

But Clinton’s job plan would increase the national debt without helping the economy to recover, Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said Friday ahead of Kaine’s visit.

“Future generations would be stuck with a greater burden under their White House,” she said. “This kind of irresponsibility is wrong for our children and grandchildren, and we can’t accept the kind of future that would be left for them under this continued lack of leadership.”

Kaine repeatedly bashed Trump, playing the role of campaign attack dog to a ravenous crowd.

“He trash talks people with disabilities, he trash talks people from other countries, says offensive things about women. The list goes on and on and on,” Kaine said. “Two days ago in Virginia he threw a crying baby out of a rally. I have a hard time figuring out who’s the baby in this election sometimes.”

But Clinton is a bridge-builder who has fought for families and children, Kaine said, noting that his mother called it the “best night” of her life last week when Clinton became the first woman in American history to accept the presidential nomination of a major political party.

“We strong men, we can stand up and support a strong woman to be president of this country,” he said.

Hundreds of Clinton supporters – and a handful of protesters, lined up outside the theater before he arrived.

Laura and Bob Medellin of Holland arrived at 1 p.m. for the evening event. The elementary school teachers were first in line for their first political rally, where they got a front-row seat.

“We don’t usually get high-profile Democrats here,” said Laura Medellin, 54, referencing the area’s Republican roots. “We love Hillary, and now we’re getting to know Tim Kaine.”

Owen Purdue of Grand Rapids, an 18-year-old Michigan State student who will vote in his first presidential election this fall, said he is supporting Clinton because of her foreign policy experience.

“Hillary is somebody I trust to withhold herself from using America’s nuclear arsenal,” Purdue said, suggesting he does not trust Trump to do the same.

“That’s something that really scares me,” he added. “The stakes are so high in this election.”

Hundreds of Hillary Clinton supporters – and a handful of protesters – were gathered Friday afternoon outside the Wealthy Theatre awaiting the arrival of Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine.

Ann Swisher of Grand Rapids, a support specialist in a local public school district, was among roughly a half-dozen protesters gathered outside the Kaine rally, most of them fans of Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who finished second to Clinton in the Democratic primaries and caucuses.

Swisher held a sign demanding Democrats hold Clinton to her campaign pledges to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership, a 12-country trade deal negotiated by President Barack Obama.

Clinton touted the potential benefits of the trade deal as secretary of state but came out against it in late 2015 after negotiations had concluded.

“I’m afraid she’s going to switch it as soon as she gets elected – because she will get elected,” Swisher said. “Trump is going to implode, and we have to hold her accountable for what she says.”

Celina Belfer, a native of Brazil who has lived in Grand Rapids for more than two decades, said she supports Clinton and is wary of Trump’s iron-fisted immigration plans.

The New York businessman has proposed building a wall between the United States and Mexico and temporarily banning Muslim immigrants, a plan he has recently changed to halt immigration from countries known to harbor or train terrorists.

“I’m an immigrant,” said Belfer, 57, who works at Booking.com. “I am totally against Donald Trump.”

Nancy Rosen of Grand Rapids said she appreciates Clinton’s support for Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive health rights. Rosen, a 57-year-old retired nurse, said it is important to her that Clinton could become the country’s first woman president.

“I want somebody with a softer touch in government,” she said.


Presidential visits

■GOP’s Donald Trump: Will deliver Monday a “major speech” hosted by the Detroit Economic Club at noon in Detroit’s Cobo Center. The speech is sold out. Watch his speech live at detroitnews.com

■Democrats’ Hillary Clinton: Expected to visit Metro Detroit on Wednesday, including a Birmingham fundraiser and an event that hasn’t been finalized, according to sources.