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Kaine attacks Trump outsourcing, diminishes FBI probe

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Democratic Vice President candidate Tim Kaine speaks at the Taylor Fire Department, on Sunday.

Warren — Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine highlighted Sunday Donald Trump’s use of overseas labor to manufacture his clothing and goods as a warning to unionized skilled trades workers not to be “tricked” by the Republican’s blue-collar appeal.

In a prior rally in Taylor, the U.S. senator from Virginia also touched on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s decision Friday to look into newly discovered emails that may be related to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server as secretary of state. Kaine encouraged the crowd of autoworkers not to be “distracted’ by the latest email news.

The subject went unmentioned in Warren, where he stayed focused on Trump’s foreign outsourcing.

“Every time he has a chance to make anything, does he ever make it in Michigan? Does he ever make it in Virginia or Ohio?” Kaine asked at a Sunday night rally in Warren with union carpenters and millwrights. “No, he doesn’t make it in any of these places. It’s Bangladesh ... it’s Turkey, dozens of countries. When he has the choice to hire American workers, he never hires American.”

Kaine’s two Sunday Metro Detroit rallies and Trump’s scheduled Monday rallies in the Grand Rapids area and Warren have made Michigan a battleground with eight days to go before the election.

The appearances are the latest general election visits in Michigan by a presidential candidate since 2004, when Democrat John Kerry rallied a crowd of 9,000 in Warren and then-President George W. Bush addressed 30,000 supporters at Pontiac’s Silverdome and another event in Saginaw within a week of the election.

Political experts said Kerry’s near-brush with defeat in Michigan has prompted Clinton’s campaign to remain aggressive about stumping for the state’s 16 electoral votes.

“Clinton has been a clear favorite in Michigan, and the Democrats aren’t taking the state for granted,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “Trump’s campaign simply must run the board of battlegrounds plus win another Blue state. That’s why Trump is in Michigan — and Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico and so on.”

Trump will be in Warren for a 3 p.m. rally Monday at Macomb Community College’s southern campus following a noon rally at the Deltaplex arena in Grand Rapids.

In Warren, Kaine went after Trump’s pro-American rhetoric at a rally organized by the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights on the eve of Trump’s first trip back to Macomb County since three days before March 8 GOP presidential primary.

Kaine hits Trump outsourcing

Since the centerpiece of Trump’s White House campaign is criticism of U.S. trade deals, Democrats have routinely hit the New York businessman for having his Trump-branded suits, ties, shirts and other apparel made overseas. On Sunday, Kaine chastised Trump for using Chinese steel in his buildings.

“Now, of course, he’s going to be tough on China,” the 58-year-old Virginian said. “If you believe the guy’s words, you’re going to be tricked.”

Kaine spoke to about 300 union members and their families after rallying autoworkers at a United Auto Workers hall in Taylor. In both appearances, Kaine sought to keep supporters enthused about the election.

In Warren, the senator urged supporters not to get complacent as Election Day nears, noting he has been in nail-biter elections before running for governor and the U.S. Senate.

“Get the Pepto-Bismol, folks,” Kaine said. “I barely win my races.”

Both the Trump and Clinton campaigns are scrambling to get absentee voters to return their ballots to municipal clerks.

Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, said Trump’s Monday visit will be “helpful” to energize the GOP base and elect down-ballot Republican candidates.

“At this point, it’s a turnout game,” McDaniel said. “And so seeing Donald Trump coming to Michigan saying ‘your state matters, I’m fighting for every vote,’ we’ll get more Republicans out knocking on doors, making calls and running through the tape on Nov. 8 for all of our candidates.”

Bryan Marietta, a millwright from Monroe, said Trump’s support for right-to-work laws making union membership optional makes the decision easy for him.

“Unfortunately, I’ve got to vote for my paycheck,” Marietta said of his support for Clinton.

Kaine attacked Trump’s record as a businessman, a point that resonated with Marietta’s 22-year-old daughter, Shelby.

“The country is not a business,” said Shelby Marietta, who works at Quicken Loans in Detroit. “You can’t run it like a business.”

Union support not uniform

The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights is not as closely aligned with the Democratic Party as the UAW, the Service Employees International Union or public-sector unions. The skilled trades union endorses Republican candidates, and its members are typically more pro-gun and conservative on social issues than other unions.

Mike Jackson, president of the 14,000-member carpenters and millwrights union, said the organization’s younger members are less conservative than previous generations of workers.

“In this cycle, we’ve seen a real shift in what our members consider their top issues – it’s more bread-and-butter issues and less about social issues,” Jackson said.

Although the union has officially endorsed Clinton, there was not unanimity at Sunday’s Kaine rally. Union member are “all over the place,” said David Cope, 50, a millwright from Clinton Township.

Cope said he remains undecided because he wants to see “more substance than name-calling” from Trump and Clinton.

Derek Kristofice, a 47-year-old millwright from Fraser, said he favors Trump’s approach to deterring illegal immigration by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I don’t like the fact they’re letting in illegal immigrants, so I’m for him on that,” Kristofice said.

He also said Clinton has “black marks” on her resume, pointing to the deadly attack on an American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, and the secretive email server she housed in her New York home while secretary of state.

But Trump’s support of right to work is “a big downfall for me.”

“I am torn,” Kristofice said. “It’s going to be a tough nine days.”

John McDonald, a union carpenter from Monroe, attended the Warren rally, but said he’s a Libertarian and supporting his party’s nominee, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Asked what he doesn’t like about the two majority party nominees, McDonald replied: “Trump’s mouth and Clinton’s politics.”

“A lot of people don’t know who they want to vote for,” said McDonald, 29. “You have another choice than the two.”

FBI probe hits campaign trail

Kaine said FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the agency is reviewing new emails that may be connected to Clinton’s private email server has “revved up enthusiasm” among Democrats.

“But it’s a very unusual thing when 11 days before a presidential election, something like this just gets introduced as a distraction,” Kaine said in Taylor. “... Nobody’s going to be distracted. Right? I’ll tell you this: Hillary’s not distracted.”

The Clinton campaign spent the weekend calling on the FBI immediately to release more information about the emails and the investigation.

The new emails were discovered in a separate inquiry into sexting by former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat and the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

McDaniel, the GOP state party chairwoman, said Comey’s letter “should concern every American.”

“I think a lot of employers wouldn’t hire somebody under investigation by the FBI,” she said. “... We would not be in the place if Hillary Clinton had not deleted 30,000 emails and kept a private server.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3661

Twitter: @ChadLivengood

The Associated Press contributed

Cher to campaign for Clinton

Cher is hitting the campaign trail Monday in Michigan to help Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton eight days before Election Day.

Cher will make her first campaign stop at 12:30 p.m. on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. From there, the 70-year-old pop music icon will head to East Lansing for a 3 p.m. event at Michigan State University. Cher will then travel to Flint for a 6 p.m. event at a local Democratic campaign office.

The campaign events with Cher are open to the public.

Cher will end her day with a Halloween night fundraiser for a fund that benefits Clinton and the Democratic Party at the Bloomfield Hills home of attorney Joumana Kayrouz.

Chad Livengood