There was a hat tip to the dad thing, a callback to his politically naive early days on Richmond City Council and a recollection of arriving in Richmond with only one friend -- his wife, Anne Holton.
“If I have to go back to having only one friend,” he said of Holton, sitting behind him on stage, “I know I can be happy.”
Sen. Tim Kaine’s 46-minute speech earlier tonight in a steamy Huguenot High School gymnasium seemed less about delivering a rousing barnburner for Hillary Clinton and more about connecting with his hometown crowd.
“This will be the hardest speech I have to give of the entire campaign,” he said, choking up at least once, like his wife did during her introduction of him.
“Our kids and I understand it is our role to keep him humble,” Holton joked after a procession of speakers -- quickly following that it wasn’t necessary because her husband walked with humility.
And now, they’re walking into a big adventure, said Holton, having resigned as Virginia's secretary of education to help Kaine on the campaign trail. “We are such passionate fans of Secretary Clinton,” she said, “and so excited to help her get elected.”
Holton's remarks were interrupted by loud chants from a woman in the stands. It was difficult to hear her message, and a large security contingent escorted her and at least two other adults and two children from the gym.
Kaine spoke of his spiritual side and the role of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in his life. “We come to know God by looking in the eyes of other people,” he said, talking of the greater good and a greater power.
He reached back to what he called his “naive” days on City Council, when candidates didn’t focus on party affiliation but on how to improve Richmond.
There were plenty of local political, business and civic leaders there who remembered those days, including Mayor Dwight Jones, in the front row -- a “longtime friend,” Kaine said.
He talked of the night in Philadelphia last week, when he accepted the party’s nomination as Clinton’s running mate -- when his mother, 81, told him, “This is the best night of my life.”
But it wasn’t only because of his nomination, he said. It was because the first woman had been nominated to a major party ticket for president. That led him into a section on women’s rights, a brief history lesson on Virginia politics and how the state started to matter again in the national election, when Barack Obama ran.
Kaine said he tried to tell the Obama campaign to invest in Virginia -- which they did on Memorial Day 2008. “But Tim, if we see a bad poll, we’re probably going to pull out,” Kaine said he was told.
He summed up the reasons to vote for Clinton: “It’s the economy, it’s our role in the world, and it’s character.” He riled up the crowd against her Republican rival: “Is there anybody in this place who believes Donald Trump?” he asked, to resounding “nooos” from the crowd. “Donald Trump’s passion is Donald Trump,” he said.
As for the hometown love, he spread it and the audience ate it up. “I’m so proud of RVA,” he said, adding that his kids tell him, “Dad, Richmond’s a hipster town now.”