Tim Kaine in Charlotte: ‘This is not a television show, this is not a reality show’

VP candidate Tim Kaine holds Charlotte press conference

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine holds a press conference at Heist Brewery in Charlotte after addressing supporters during a campaign stop.
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Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine holds a press conference at Heist Brewery in Charlotte after addressing supporters during a campaign stop.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine told supporters at Heist Brewery in NoDa Thursday that voters can’t allow Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to “insult our democracy” by not accepting the results of the election.

The rally came a day after the third and final presidential debate between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. During the debate, in Las Vegas, Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the election if he lost.

“I’ll keep you in suspense,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.

Kaine took aim at those comments Thursday.

“This is not a television show, this is not a reality show,” he told the 300 or so people packed into the brewery. “This is about running a country. You gotta do better than that.”

Talking to reporters after his speech, Kaine criticized Trump’s decision Thursday to double down on his controversial refusal to concede if he loses.

Trump said at a rally in Ohio that he would accept the results of the presidential election “if I win.”

That comment, Kaine said, proves that Trump “has a profound misunderstanding for the institutions of government. … He is trying to upset a tradition that’s been one of the notable features of American life.”

Asked whether Trump’s defiance would make it harder for Clinton to lead if she’s elected, Kaine said he and his running mate are already reaching out to “moderate GOP members (who) are horrified” by Trump’s suggestion that he may not abide by the election results.

If Clinton becomes president, Kaine said, “there are some Donald Trump supporters that would be very difficult for us to win (over). But there are many who have economic anxieties … and we’ve got to demonstrate to them in that first 100 days when we’re putting an economic package on the table that we’re speaking to their concerns and their communities.”

In his speech Kaine, a former mayor of Richmond who now represents Virginia in the U.S. Senate, also questioned Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that Russia has been behind the hacking of several email accounts of Democratic officials.

“You won’t defend American democracy, but you will defend Vladimir Putin on stage?” Kaine asked.

He said voters need to elect Clinton by a large margin, which he said would “send a resounding message” to other countries.

“Don’t think you can come into our country and mess around with an American election – no way,” Kaine said.

Kaine began his speech by criticizing other Republicans in the state. He said the Charlotte City Council and Mayor Jennifer Roberts did the right thing when they expanded the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance for gay, lesbian and transgender individuals.

“When Charlotte decided to step forward and protect people from discrimination, state government said we have to crack down (with House Bill 2),” Kaine said. “I used to be a mayor. I didn’t like a state cracking down on us.”

He said North Carolina has “a proud progressive tradition,” but that the GOP-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory did “a 180 to show a very different face” of the state.

Kaine said many N.C. voters “aren’t taking this lying down.”

Kaine’s rally coincided with the first day of early voting in the state. He told supporters that if Clinton wins North Carolina, Trump will have no viable path to 270 electoral votes. No Republican presidential candidate has won the White House without carrying North Carolina since Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.

“If we win North Carolina, we got this thing, folks,” said Kaine, who cautioned against taking any votes for granted. “Here’s my piece of advice. … We’re the underdog until we’re the winner.”

Both sides are working hard to win this key battleground state’s 15 electoral votes. Kaine’s Charlotte stop – he was in Durham later Thursday – was his second visit to the state in just over a week. Trump will speak Friday at a rally in Fletcher, near Asheville. And Clinton is expected to return to the state Sunday.

President Barack Obama, one of Clinton’s top surrogate campaigners, called in to Charlotte’s WOSF, an urban oldies station better known as “Old School 105.3 FM,” to encourage early voting and promote Clinton with African-American voters. The Clinton campaign said the interview with the president will air about 1 p.m. Friday. Obama also called WNNL, an urban gospel radio station in Raleigh.

In a statement timed for Kaine’s visit, the N.C. Republican Party criticized Clinton: “As Tim Kaine talks to North Carolina voters, he should explain why corruption and conflicts of interest seem to follow the Clintons wherever they go.”

Kaine started his day in Charlotte on Thursday by visiting an early voting site – the Hal Marshall Annex – near uptown. He greeted Democratic volunteers, including 25 from the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights group.

He spoke with one volunteer in Spanish, and he wrote a message in another’s scrapbook.

Among the group’s partisan chants: “Madam … President!” and “NC … Blue!”

Kitty Eldridge, 71, of Charlotte showed up at the annex to vote, but she was pleased to learn that Kaine would be stopping by.

“I’m a yellow-dog Democrat,” said Eldridge, who called Clinton “my girl.” And Kaine? “I’m crazy about him,” she said.

Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine campaigns at Heist Brewery in Charlotte. David T. Foster III/The Charlotte Observer