LAS VEGAS (AP) — Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine is set to try to shore up labor support with a little help from his dad.
Kaine will make a personal appeal on Monday at the ironworkers’ union annual convention, held this year in Las Vegas.
Accompanying Kaine will be his father, Al Kaine, who owned a union-organized ironworking and welding shop in the Kansas City, Missouri, area. The senior Kaine owned the shop, Iron Crafters, for more than 20 years and also served many years on the ironworkers’ national pension board.
Tim Kaine and his running mate, Hillary Clinton, are competing against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for the support of blue-collar workers, particularly in Midwest battleground states where wages have stagnated and a decline in manufacturing jobs has hurt workers.
Major unions, including the ironworkers, have endorsed Clinton, and the labor vote has long been a key part of the Democratic base.
But Trump is aggressively courting union voters, and he’s tried to paint Clinton as beholden to Wall Street interests.
Tim Kaine is expected to highlight his family connection to the trades. Iron Crafters made bicycle racks, ornamental balconies and dress racks for department stores, and Tim Kaine has said he would often get up early Saturday mornings to pitch in at the shop.
Kaine has said the skills he learned at his dad’s shop were useful when he took off a year from Harvard Law School to work as a missionary running a vocational school in Honduras.
“It was a really wonderful place to learn about hard work,” Kaine said in a recent interview with C-SPAN.
Much of Trump’s pitch to labor interests has centered on international trade. He has repeatedly denounced as “stupid” trade deals that he says hurt U.S. workers, and he’s pledged to penalize companies for sending jobs overseas.
Trump has also said that Clinton would implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal if she’s elected. While Clinton promoted the agreement dozens of times as secretary of state, she has since said she cannot support its current form. Kaine voted in 2015 to support so-called fast-track authority — allowing the president to negotiate a trade deal that Congress can approve or deny but not amend or filibuster — but also opposes the TPP.
John Fredericks, a radio host and vice chairman of Trump’s Virginia campaign, said Kaine’s efforts in Las Vegas won’t help the Democratic ticket win over skeptical union members.
Fredericks said the fact that Kaine is addressing the union shows that Democrats are “scared to death” of how well Trump will do with labor voters on Election Day.
“Talk is very cheap, and he can go and meet with as many union bosses as he wants,” Fredericks said.
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