Campaign seeking to make most of Kaine’s Spanish

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton made their debut as the Democratic presidential ticket, he proudly declared, “Hillary and I are soul mates in this struggle.”

It was a message he delivered to the Miami crowd in Spanish.

In the days after Kaine’s selection as Clinton’s running mate, much was made of his time working with Roman Catholic missionaries in Latin America as a young law student. Fluent in Spanish, the former mayor of Richmond and governor of Virginia moved easily between languages when he spoke at that first campaign event.

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But while some Latinos say there’s a practical value to Kaine’s skills, they add the days are gone when that alone is enough to win over Hispanic voters.

“Words are fleeting and actions are what matter,” said Daniel Lopez, a 50-year-old security guard at a Mexican market in Santa Ana, California, who said he’s voting for Clinton because of her strong work ethic — not what languages she or her vice presidential pick may speak.

Latinos make up about 17 percent of the nation’s population, and roughly half — 27.3 million — are eligible to vote in 2016.