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NEWPORT, R.I (WPRI) — The Democratic Vice Presidential nominee made two stops in Newport Saturday night, attending private fundraisers with local Democrats.
One of the fundraisers took place at the home of former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino, who said in an interview with Eyewitness News that about 75 Democrats would be attending to raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund.
“You can sense he’s a genuine kind of guy,” said Paolino, who said he met Kaine for the first time last month at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. “Quite frankly, I like that he somewhat has an independent streak in him. And he’s a little moderate, and that works for my politics.”
Gov. Gina Raimondo, Representatives David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse all attended the fundraiser. Senator Jack Reed is overseas on government business, Paolino said. He said Kaine helps the Democratic ticket in Rhode Island because of his experience.
“If there was ever a crisis, he could take over the White House. He could serve as president,” Paolino said. “That’s the most important reason to appoint someone–if they can really do the job.”
Senator Kaine waved to the one news crew outside the fundraiser from the backseat of a car while arriving at Paolino’s house, but didn’t speak to any news media or make any public appearances during his short Rhode Island visit.
Before Paolino’s fundraiser, Kaine attended another one at the home of Barrett Bready, the CEO of life sciences company Nabsys. An invitation obtained by WPRI.com said “Hosts” were required to raise $50,000 for the Clinton campaign. “Co-hosts” who contributed $5,000 or raised $10,000 would receive a photo with Kaine, and “Champions” who contributed $2,700 would get preferred seating. “Friends” had to contribute $1,000 to attend.
The Republican National Committee was quick to condemn the fundraisers.
“Rhode Island Democrat insiders opening their wallets for face time with Tim Kaine is only a preview of the kind of pay-to-play politics that will continue in the White House if the Clinton-Kaine ticket is elected in November,” Spokesperson Natalie Strom said in an emailed statement.
“Are they against fundraisers?” Paolino asked in response to the statement, laughing slightly. “Right? Are they against fundraisers? The multi-millionaires?” (While Donald Trump is partially self-funding his campaign, he’s still received donations, and many state and local Republican candidates across the country are also holding fundraisers for their campaign, as is normal practice.)
Kaine left Paolino’s party around 8 p.m. Paolino said Kaine was flying home to spend a night in his own bed.
Saturday was Kaine’s second trip to Newport this summer. In July, Kaine was at a fundraiser for Senator Jack Reed at the Newport Shipyard when he received the call from Hillary Clinton asking him to be her running mate.
Ted Nesi contributed to this report.