Anne Holton, wife of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine — and a former Virginia secretary of education — rallied young voters in the Twin Cities on Thursday night, telling a crowd packed into a downtown St. Paul pizza parlor that their votes would be critical in making Hillary Clinton the next president.
Speaking at a Millennial Vote Kickoff event, Holton said many of the issues young voters consider top priorities, including climate change, immigration reform, support for the LGBT community and women's reproductive rights, match up with the ideas of both Clinton and Kaine.
"Democracy works when people vote," she said. "And when you people vote, Democrats win."
Holton's visit came about two weeks after her husband made a swing through the Twin Cities in which he also reached out to young voters in a stop at the University of Minnesota. Clinton's last local visit was in March, when Minnesota was among several states holding primaries on Super Tuesday.
Holton's remarks Thursday evening at Big River Pizza followed comments from some of Minnesota's highest-ranking DFLers, including Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Each urged the young people in the crowd to get involved with both national and local campaigns and to encourage their friends to do the same.
Klobuchar said young voters have a unique perspective shaped by their coming of age during a recession and being part of the country's most diverse generation ever.
"Millennials are such a special generation, because you kind of look out for each other," she said, adding that she is "psyched about this campaign and psyched about you going out and talking to people."
Dayton struck a somber tone, telling the audience that he sees echoes of his own youth — including the election of Richard Nixon and the country's losses in the Vietnam War — in the current political situation. He said he is "terrified" about the possibility that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump could win.
"Elections have consequences," he said. "Elections have profound consequences, especially for president of the United States. It matters to your lives, and to your futures."
Holton, who spoke last, told the crowd that she wanted to share some "tales from the [campaign] trail." She described her husband as a music fan prone to sharing his favorite tunes with anyone and everyone on the campaign trail. She described one evening on the campaign bus, when a staffer figured out how to plug Kaine's phone into the speaker system and the vice presidential nominee became "TK the DJ." The selections, she said, featured Minnesota artists that are among Kaine's favorites: Prince and the Replacements.
Multiple speakers Thursday night pointed to Kaine's hometown link: He was born in St. Paul, though he moved away as a child. Coleman noted that he and Kaine were "alumni of the same maternity ward."
Many of the young people in the crowd were already politically active, volunteering or working with the Clinton campaign or local DFL candidates. That included Minnesota Young DFL political director Manilan Houle, 22, who told the crowd that young people are working to dispel myths that they don't care about or understand politics and government. He noted that in Minnesota, this year's election features a number of youthful candidates for the state Legislature.
"Not only are we voting, we are pushing the policy," he said.