Former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine gave a speech at the University of Louisville on Monday, urging students to run for office and rise above partisan politics.
Kaine, a Democratic U.S. senator from Virginia, spoke as a guest of the Distinguished Speaker Series at U of L’s McConnell Center.
During his talk, Kaine said combating climate change is the issue that deserves the most attention in the Senate. He said that in his home state, he has to address the worries of constituents in coal communities at the same time as coastal areas.
“I’ve got to say look, we all live in the same state, yes you’ve got coal mines, but I’ve got 1.6 million people and military operations being jeopardized by sea level rise, we’re going to have to figure this out together,” Kaine said.
Kaine was Hillary Clinton’s running mate when she ran for president in 2016. He’s been in the U.S. Senate since 2013 and previously served as Virginia’s governor and the mayor of Richmond.
While introducing Kaine, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was interrupted by a group of protesters from an environmental activist group that criticized him for taking campaign donations from the fossil fuels industry.
The protesters sang “which side are you on?” as they were escorted from the event. Afterwards, McConnell said “Welcome to America these days” and continued with his introduction.
Kaine said he has learned how to work with his Republican colleagues by finding points of common ground.
He also said that the Senate, and humans in general, have trouble tackling big issues like climate change.
“I think it’s an issue that sort of challenges our ability because it’s a big, long-term issue and it can be kind of depressing sometimes,” he said. “But the only way to deal with most problems is a little bite at a time.”