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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

VP Candidate Tim Kaine Addresses Range of Issues at Campaign Stop

By Brendan O'Hallarn

In a Sept. 9 speech at Old Dominion University, vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said he is proud to support Hillary Clinton's campaign for president as many "strong women" have supported his political career.

The rally on the Williamsburg Lawn, which was sponsored by the ODU Democrats student organization and the Democratic Party of Virginia, focused on military issues, on access to higher education and on Clinton's qualifications as the Democratic nominee. Kaine, a U.S. senator and former Virginia governor, said he was honored to be asked by Clinton to be her running mate.

Kaine also noted that he has visited Old Dominion many times, speaking about veteran's issues, sea level rise and access to higher education.

"There's not a college in the Commonwealth that has been more open to public officials coming from Washington or Richmond," Kaine said.

Jesse Richman, an associate professor in ODU's Department of Political Science and Geography, said Kaine's visit underlines the strategic importance of Virginia in this election.

"Together with Republican candidate Donald Trump's visit to Virginia Beach last week, it also reflects the critical importance of Hampton Roads - a region with the electoral weight to swing the state behind Clinton and Kaine, he said.

Richman added that Kaine, as a sitting senator representing Virginia, has a unique connection to the state, an advantage that the Democratic campaign is likely to leverage on an ongoing basis if Virginia remains in close contention this election cycle.

"As Democrats' post-convention bump dissipates, Virginia still appears to lean toward the Democratic column, but the Clinton campaign would be well advised not to neglect organization and campaigning in this important swing state," he said.

Part of Kaine's speech focused on the strong military presence in Hampton Roads, and the Clinton campaign's pledge to support the military and keep America safe. James V. Koch, Board of Visitors Professor of Economics and professor emeritus at Old Dominion, said that is no accident either.

"Virginia is a classic 'purple' swing state that is critical to the election of the next president. One of the largest voting blocs in the state is active duty military personnel and veterans. Capturing their vote might well make the difference," Koch said.

The Friday afternoon rally featured Democratic Party officials from around the region, including Rep. Bobby Scott, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Kenny Alexander, the newly elected mayor of Norfolk.

Alexander, '90, an Old Dominion political science graduate, said he was proud to welcome Kaine to "the best university, in the best city, in the best state, in the United States."

During introductory remarks, Old Dominion President John R. Broderick thanked Kaine for being a "long-time friend" of the University, and for his leadership role in sea level rise, and veteran advocacy in addition to other issues.

As governor and U.S. senator, Kaine has been a strong proponent for Old Dominion's service-affiliated students and their families, hosting conversations about military budget sequestration; health care; jobs and benefits for vets; as well as the threat of sea level rise to national security. He has also helped advance education and outreach efforts spotlighting Old Dominion's multidisciplinary sea level rise and flooding resilience research.

President Broderick made the subject a University-wide priority with the creation of Old Dominion's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative in 2010.

The Clinton campaign said it chose Old Dominion as the site for Kaine's stop in Hampton Roads due to the University's strong military connection, which stretches back to its inception. During World War II, the campus created the Engineering War Training Program, one of the largest military research and training operations on a university campus on the East Coast.

The partnership has continued to be rewarding, with Old Dominion researchers collaborating with the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA Langley, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Jefferson Lab, NATO and the Port of Virginia on groundbreaking work to support national defense.

Army ROTC was established at Old Dominion in September 1969 as part of the Darden School of Education. The program has grown in size and scope, since the establishment in the 1974-75 school year of a military science curriculum that is fully recognized academically by the University.

Naval ROTC Unit Hampton Roads was commissioned in July 1982 and developed an innovative concept known as the "NROTC Consortium." NROTC Hampton Roads became the first unit to offer complete programs at three institutions: Hampton University, Norfolk State and Old Dominion. It is now one of the largest Naval ROTC units in the United States.

Old Dominion is committed to easing the transition of veterans and their families into civilian life. The University's Military Connection Center serves as a one-stop shop for the academic and personal support of military-affiliated students. The Hampton Roads Veterans Business Outreach Center, headquartered in Old Dominion's Center for Enterprise Innovation, is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, mentoring and referrals for veterans owning or considering starting a small business.

Nearly 26 percent of Old Dominion's students have a direct connection to the military. For the past five years, Old Dominion has been ranked among the top "military-friendly" schools by the national publication Military Times. Last year, it was ranked No. 22 among four-year colleges and universities as "Best for Vets," the highest ranking of any Virginia university.

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