Arizona's population is 30.7% Latino, according to the US Census Bureau
Kaine hit Trump for his rhetoric during the campaign against Latinos
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine made his case to Latino voters Thursday, asking them to vote for his presidential ticket with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton – in Spanish.
While speaking at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Kaine said Republican nominee Donald Trump is “someone who thinks ‘Latino outreach’ means tweeting out a picture of a taco bowl.”
Kaine slammed the real estate mogul for saying Mexicans are criminals and rapists, calling Alicia Machado “Miss Housekeeping” when she won the 1996 Miss Universe pageant and for suggesting Indiana-born US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel was biased in overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University because he is “Mexican.”
“In the first weeks of his campaign, Donald Trump said that immigrants from Mexico are drug dealers, rapists, murderers,” Kaine said in Spanish. “In the last debate, Trump referred to them as ‘bad hombres.’ … He insists that ‘This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.’ He doesn’t understand that multilingual and bilingual families contribute to the diversity that makes our nation strong.”
Kaine’s speech is in part a sign of Clinton’s campaign efforts to turn traditionally red Arizona in her electoral favor. According to a CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday, Trump tops Clinton by 5 percentage points with voters in Arizona, 49% to 44% respectively. But the campaign is targeting Latino and millennial voters – where 30.7% of the Arizona population identified as Latino and/or Hispanic.
Kaine, who grew up in the Kansas City area, became fluent in Spanish during volunteer service in Honduras during the early 1980s. The former Virginia governor – whose state includes a growing Latino population – in 2013 became the first senator to deliver a floor speech entirely in Spanish.
On Thursday the Virginia senator was introduced by Clarissa Felix, a student at Arizona State University, who said her mother recently became a US citizen, and they both plan to vote for Clinton and Kaine in the election.
Kaine also slammed local Arizona politicians – former Gov. Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio – who are both supporters of Trump for president.
“One of Trump’s biggest supporters, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s facing criminal charges for profiling Latinos and has persecuted undocumented immigrants. He says he thinks Trump will get ‘a lot of Hispanic votes,’” Kaine said in Spanish. “Just the other day, your former governor, Jan Brewer, who signed into law the discriminatory SB1070 that promoted racial profiling, said that she wasn’t worried about her candidate, Donald Trump, winning this state, because, as she said, Latinos ‘don’t get out and vote.’”
He continued in Spanish, “So I hate to break it to the Trump campaign, but Latinos are going to have a really big voice in this election … and the choice is really clear.”
He ended his speech by pleading that Latinos vote because they could help swing the state blue for Clinton.
“For the first time in a while, the state of Arizona is competitive – and every single vote counts,” he said.
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.