GOFFSTOWN, N.H. — Campaigning in New Hampshire on Saturday for the first time since being selected as Hillary Clinton's running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia questioned whether Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been paying taxes, saying that if he has not, he is failing to support the military.
Speaking at a rally in front of more than 600 people wearing Hillary stickers and chanting "stronger together" in Saint Anselm College's dining hall, Kaine said he released his tax return Friday and was happy to do so because voters "have the right to know."
Trump has so far broken from decades of presidential candidates voluntarily releasing such records as a matter of transparency.
"Now he was not known for the most elevated ethical standards, but even Richard Nixon released his tax returns to the public when he was running for president," Kaine said.
Trump has said that he would like to release his returns but cannot because he is under audit. The Internal Revenue Service has said there is no reason he cannot release his tax returns while he is undergoing an audit.
Kaine linked Trump's bragging over past decades about paying nothing in taxes to not supporting the military.
"If you haven't paid your taxes to support the military your entire life, don't tell me you will suddenly start if you get to be commander-in-chief," he said. "I don't believe that for a minute."
The former Virginia governor went further by saying Trump was also not funding veterans services if he wasn't paying taxes.
"If you look at a guy's tax returns and you find that he's using every trick and dodge he can to not pay any taxes, then there's a guy who's trying to dodge supporting our veterans," Kaine said.
When asked for a response, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said Clinton may have released her taxes, but not her deleted e-mails.
"Hillary Clinton has turned over the only records nobody wants to see from her — the American public wants to see the 33,000 e-mails she deleted to obstruct an FBI investigation," Miller said.
When Clinton released her taxes Friday it showed that she and her husband paid an effective federal tax rate of 34.2 percent and gave nearly 10 percent to charity. The Clintons have released their returns going back to 1977. The Clintons reported more than $10 million in income for 2015, while Kaine and his wife reported earning $313,000. The Kaines paid an effective federal tax rate of 25.6 percent.
In the 30-minute speech Kaine framed the decision for voters in November as one between a "you're hired president" and a "you're fired president."
"I think it is poetic justice that the thing we all know about Donald Trump is those two words, 'you're fired,' " Kaine said. "And my prediction is that in November when people have forgotten the losing campaign that he ran the two words they will remember is 'you're fired.' "
Before the rally on Saturday, Kaine met with the parents of journalist James Foley, who was held captive by ISIS before being killed by them exactly two years ago. He also stopped by a coffee shop in downtown Manchester with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen. After the rally ended, he was scheduled to attend two campaign fund-raisers in Rhode Island.
New Hampshire Republican Chair Jennifer Horn said she welcomed "mega-establishment" Kaine to the state, which gave substantial victories to Trump (by 20 percent) and US Senator Bernie Sanders (by 22 percent) during the state's presidential primary in February
"We all know that the Clinton-Kaine ticket offers nothing but more of the same policies that have stalled the economy, put our national security at risk, and skyrocketed health care prices," Horn said.
Judith Jolton, a 73-year-old etiquette teacher from Manchester, said she had never heard of Kaine before Clinton chose him as her vice presidential candidate last month. After hearing him speak at the rally, she thought he would be an active vice president.
"So many of [vice presidents] sit down and don't do much," said Jolton. "I can see him speaking up and being involved."
Kaine's trip to the Granite State comes just days before Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is scheduled to make his first trip to the state on Thursday.
Polls for much of the year have shown the presidential race for the state's four electoral votes to be tight. However, a poll after the two national political conventions showed Clinton opening up a 15-point lead over Trump here.
Those poll numbers mirror what is happening in other swing states around the country. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal showed Clinton leading Trump by 14 percent in Colorado, 13 percent in Virginia, and by 9 percent in North Carolina, a state that Republican Mitt Romney won in 2012.
As Kaine's rally was taking place, Trump's campaign invited supporters to participate in a "Day of Action" at several locations in New Hampshire, which involved knocking on doors.