Kaine in Charlotte: ‘If Hillary wins in NC, take it to the bank, she’s president’

Tim Kaine campaigns in Charlotte

Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, were introduced to hundreds of supporters by N.C. Attorney General, Roy Cooper, who is running for governor.
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Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, were introduced to hundreds of supporters by N.C. Attorney General, Roy Cooper, who is running for governor.

With the 2016 campaign in its final, frantic hours, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine urged supporters in Charlotte to turn out and vote in what’s expected to be a photo-finish-close race.

Kaine spoke at a get-out-the-vote rally Monday morning in Charlotte, at the Democratic Party’s local headquarters on Executive Drive, off Albemarle Road. Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democrat who’s challenging Gov. Pat McCrory in another close race, accompanied him on a final swing through the state.

He targeted minority and women voters, key constituencies Democrats need to turn out big. Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, called him a “feminist to the core,” and Kaine appealed to “all the strong women,” urging female supporters to vote for his running mate.

“Adelante, no atras,” Kaine said, Spanish for “Forward, not backward,” – a piece of outreach to Hispanic voters and a reference to his days as a Honduran missionary.

“Everybody’s watching you, North Carolina,” said Kaine. “If Hillary wins in North Carolina, take it to the bank, she’s president of the United States.”

With North Carolina one of a handful of crucial swing states, candidates and their representatives are barnstorming through. Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are both set to campaign in Raleigh within hours of each other on Monday. Sarah Palin was scheduled to hold a rally in Mooresville for Trump, but ended up campaigning in Michigan (daughter-in-law Lara Trump and “The Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault came to Mooresville).

Republican vice presidential pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence rallied hundreds of supporters in Hickory on Sunday. And Kaine and Cooper are holding another get-out-the-vote rally at Wilmington on Monday afternoon.

More than 3.1 million North Carolina voters have already cast their ballots ahead of Tuesday’s election, a record. The number of independent voters jumped almost 40 percent, while African-American turnout lagged the last presidential elections.

Polling in North Carolina has been mixed. The Real Clear Politics average of statewide polls showed Trump on Monday with a 1.2 percentage point edge in the state, 46.8 percent to 45.6 percent. Two of the polls included in the average showed Clinton ahead, two showed Trump in the lead, and one showed both tied exactly at 44 percent.

“We know how close it is,” Cooper told the crowd of supporters. Kaine said Cooper would change the conservative social agenda charted by the Republican-led legislature and McCrory. He referred obliquely to House Bill 2, the state’s new law limiting local protections for LGBT individuals that’s led to boycotts by entertainers and businesses such as PayPal calling off expansions.

“It weighs heavy on (Cooper),” said Kaine, “that the current governor decided to put a backwards-facing social agenda over the state’s economy.”

46.8 percentTrump support in North Carolina

45.6 percentClinton support in North Carolina

Monday’s last-minute push follows months of visits by the candidates and their high-profile surrogates, including President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. The candidates themselves will have visited North Carolina two dozen times since June, after Monday’s rallies.

Kara Carter, North Carolina communications director for the Republican National Committee, criticized Kaine in advance of his visit.

“Tomorrow, North Carolinians will head to the polls and show that they remained unpersuaded by Tim Kaine and his fellow Democrats’ final efforts to convince them that Hillary Clinton can be trusted to lead the nation,” Carter said in a statement. “No matter how many miles Tim Kaine racks up, he can’t escape his running mate’s reckless decisions that have simply made it impossible for millions of voters to support her.”

Kaine said he’s confident, but the margin will be tight.

“I’ve got a good feeling about tomorrow, but don’t take anything for granted,” Kaine said.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo