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Tim Kaine Kicks Off Texas Visit, Meets Volunteers in Austin

Rallying Democrats in a state that has not gone blue in a presidential election since 1976, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine declared Tuesday that he and Hillary Clinton are not conceding anything.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine speaks to volunteers at a Texas Democratic Party office in Austin on Aug. 8, …

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

Rallying his party in a state that has not gone to a Democratic presidential nominee since 1976, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine declared Tuesday that he and Hillary Clinton are not conceding anything.

"This team, the Clinton-Kaine team, we are serious about Texas," Kaine said at an event for campaign volunteers in Austin. "We are very serious because we know the kind of work that you do."

While Clinton leads Trump in many national polls — and in several battleground state polls — Kaine warned Democrats against growing complacent ahead of November. The election, he said, has been a “season of surprises” that requires resilience from Democrats across the country. 

“Texas Democrats know tough,” he told volunteers. “This is not a territory where it’s always smooth sailing.” 

Kaine is making a two-day swing through Texas, mainly for fundraising. He is set to attend a fundraiser later Tuesday in Austin and Wednesday in Fort Worth and Dallas. 

In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney defeated President Obama in Texas, 57 percent to 42 percent.

The campaign’s decision to hold a semi-public event in a state not normally competitive in general elections was unusual. About 300 Clinton campaign and state party volunteers turned out for the event inside a sweltering warehouse on Austin’s east side.

While it was Kaine’s first trip to Texas as Clinton’s running mate, he is not unfamiliar to Texas Democrats. He paid special attention to the state when he ran the party’s national committee from 2009 to 2011.

“Texas is critically important,” Kaine said, recalling his early days as DNC chair. “The first meeting we did, we brought it to Austin to show, hey, we’re going to go after Texas, and it's big and it's complicated and it's hard, but we're serious about this." 

Kaine voiced many familiar criticisms of Republican nominee Donald Trump, portraying him as a “you’re fired president” and Clinton as a “you’re hired president.” He also dinged state Republicans while criticizing Trump, saying Texans are not strangers to divisive campaigns.

Later Tuesday evening, Kaine dropped in on a taqueria on Austin's east side to mingle with the dinner crowd. Introducing himself as just "Tim," the running mate went from table to table shaking hands, taking pictures and striking up small talk over topics ranging from how much he hears about public education on the campaign trail to his familiarity with some Austin city officials.

Kaine spoke extensive Spanish with both the diners and the employees at the restaurant, Taqueria Chapala. He made a point of meeting the workers behind the counter — and waving through a window to a cook in the kitchen, who smiled and nodded.

Kaine's longest interaction was with one diner who appeared to invite him to sit down and have a conversation. Over the next few minutes, the two went back and forth in Spanish, with Trump's name coming up at least once. 

The conversation seemed to center on Trump's comments, made during his announcement speech last year, that characterized people entering the country illegally as having criminal intent. "My people work," the man said.

Kaine responded by calling the Latino community "a community of faith, family and work" and "a source of strength for our country." He also noted there are big differences between the Clinton-Kaine ticket and Trump on immigration.

"I want to fight for the community, not against the community," Kaine said.

Alexa Ura contributed to this report. 

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