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Kaine, Giffords try to rally Clinton support

Both campaigns traversing Florida in efforts to secure its 29 electoral votes

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With a focus on gun control and pressing a need to win Florida's electoral votes, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine brought former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to the Democratic stronghold of Tallahassee on Friday.

Kaine and Giffords, speaking at a rally at Florida State University to support Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, pressed the mostly student crowd to vote early and to also support Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy.

Kaine, a senator from Virginia, said a Clinton administration would need a Congress it can work with.

He also decried Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for running an "insult driven campaign," acting as an apparent "defense attorney" for Russian President Vladimir Putin and disparaging women, veterans, people with disabilities, parents of a dead service member, immigrants and Muslims.

"You want to have somebody who knows that Trumpism is something we should reject," Kaine told several hundred people crowded into a ballroom at the university's Oglesby Student Union.

Kaine spoke for more than 45 minutes. Meanwhile, Giffords, who suffered a severe brain injury during a 2011 assassination attempt that left six other people dead and 13 wounded, briefly touted Clinton as the candidate who will stand up to the Washington, D.C. gun lobby.

"Speaking is difficult for me, but come January I want to say these two words, Madam President," Giffords said, repeating a line she used in July at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Giffords and her husband, retired American astronaut Mark Kelly, have started a political action committee called Americans for Responsible Solutions to promote gun control.

That includes proposals aimed at preventing criminals, terrorists and mentally ill people from getting guns, while also seeking to limit the sale of high-capacity magazines and "assault" weapons.

“We don't want anybody to repeal the Second Amendment," Kelly said Friday. "We don't want the government coming to take our gun. I certainly don't want that. But we do want a president and a Congress that will do more to make sure that felons, domestic abusers and even terrorists don't get easy access to firearms."

Friday's rally came as both presidential campaigns have been traversing Florida in efforts to secure its 29 electoral votes.

"You get to the last two weeks, and there are four or five states that are more than battleground, they are checkmate," Kaine said. "That means, if Hillary Clinton wins Florida, Hillary Clinton will be president."

Trump had a raucous outdoor appearance Tuesday at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a prominent Clinton supporter, referred to the Trump event while warming up the crowd Friday for Kaine.

Gillum noted his city had a "very special visitor" earlier in the week, adding "the great news is that the stench doesn't last that long."

With less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 election, Clinton is scheduled to join entertainer Jennifer Lopez in a concert at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater in Miami on Saturday after making an appearance in Daytona Beach.

Clinton's campaign also announced she would be in Florida on Tuesday in an event focused on the economy.

Vice President Joe Biden is to return to Florida to campaign for Clinton at events Wednesday in the Tampa and West Palm Beach areas, while President Barack Obama is slated to appear Thursday at events in South Florida and the Jacksonville area.


Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant urged the crowd to protect Obama's legacy by getting out the vote in the next 11 days.

"We cannot grow complacent, we cannot grow overconfident," Tant said.

Among those cheering was Brigitte Bowen, a public-relations major from Auburn University who was among a group of students that left the Alabama campus around 4 a.m. to attend the rally in Tallahassee.

"I've never been to a rally before, so I'm trying to soak it all in," Bowen said.

A Clinton supporter who still wanted to hear more about the former secretary of state's positions, Bowen was excited to be at what is considered a more progressive campus.

"We were giving out stickers about the rally and there was only one Trump supporter that I saw," Bowen said. "It's a lot different than what I'm used to."

The event came as a series of polls have showed a tight race in Florida.