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Tim Kaine warns Democrats against complacency in Tallahassee speech

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Democrats shouldn’t let Hillary Clinton’s lead in many polls lull them into false confidence, her running mate Tim Kaine urged a student audience at Florida State University Friday.

“If we win in Florida, it’s over,” Kaine said. “We like the way it looks right now, but we can’t take anything for granted. Our polls looked pretty good on Labor Day, but by Sept. 26 it was a dead-heat tie. That can happen again.”

He reminded the audience that much about this election is unprecedented — including that a woman has a chance of winning and “Russia or some other nation” was “engaging in cyber attacks to try to influence the outcome.”

And that one of the candidates was complaining about a “rigged” process and casting doubt on the outcome.

“If we win and win big, he can whine all he wants and others won’t follow him,” Kaine said of Donald Trump. “But we ought to win big so he won’t convince others that the system is wrong.”

It was Kaine’s second visit to Tallahassee, and this time he coordinated with former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly.

They are on the fifth week in a six-week, multi-state tour promoting gun law reforms. Friday’s rally coincided with the release by the Patrick Murphy senatorial campaign results of a Public Policy Polling survey giving Hillary Clinton a four-point lead.

The gun-law-reform group Americans For Responsible Solutions commissioned the survey. The findings suggested gun law reforms are a major consideration for undecided voters.

Kaine and Kelly both called for improved background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists. And both called for the election of Democrats, including Murphy, who do, too.

“We need strong leaders who don’t just kowtow to the gun manufacturers,” Kaine said.

“Second Amendment supports support background checks. Gun owners support background checks. NRA members support background checks. We just need a Congress that’s willing to listen.”

FSU was the site of a mass shooting in 2014, when a gunman wounded three people at Strozier Library before being killed by police. The episode spurred thus-far unsuccessful legislative efforts to allow the open carrying of guns on campuses.

Kaine remarked that he was governor of Virginia when a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. “We’ve got a sickness, and we’ve got to do better.”

Clinton “will fight to make our families safer,” said Giffords, who survived a head wound in a 2011 mass shooting in her home district.

“She will stand up to the gun lobby. That’s why I’m voting for Hillary. Speaking is difficult for me, but in January I want to say these two words: Madame President.”

Speakers also encouraged the audience to vote early, and party officials organized rides to early voting sites following the rally.

“If Hillary wins Florida, she will be the president,” Kaine said. And for those who don’t want to wait until polls close on the West Coast to know who wins: “All you have to do is win in Florida in the Eastern time zone and you can go to bed knowing that Hillary is president of the United States.”

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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