Sanford, N.C. — With eight days until Election Day and most electoral maps stacking up in favor of his running mate, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine urged North Carolina voters Monday not to take a Hillary Clinton victory for granted.
"I'm the underdog until they call me the winner," Kaine told an audience in Sanford.
His appearance there and in Jacksonville earlier in the day kicks off a frantic final week of campaigning by both Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump. Both candidates will be in North Carolina on Thursday, and President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also will stump in the state for Clinton this week.
"Do you know how important you are? I hope you know how important you are," Kaine said to North Carolina voters.
Kaine told people to vote early, saying Clinton's effort to become the nation's first female president won't be easy. He also said a bigger turnout would put to rest Trump's repeated allegation that the election is rigged against him.
"You don't need to worry about Florida and Ohio. You just need to worry about taking care of business right here in North Carolina," Kaine said. "The bigger margin we win by, he can whine all he wants, but everybody will know he's just a sore loser."
He criticized Trump for "trash talking" the military while praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and dictators across the globe. Clinton would fight for American families, he said, while Trump would only look out for himself.
"Donald Trump has a passion, but the problem is his passion is Donald Trump," Kaine said. "We've never had a great president who put himself first."
In a one-on-one interview, Kaine talked about his concern over the renewed FBI probe into Clinton's email server and questioned the timing of the investigation.
"You don't talk about a pending investigation because it may lead to nothing. So you wait until you get to the end of it before you talk about it," he said.
Kaine said he stands by recent claims from Clinton's camp that protocols were violated.
"You don't release any kind of controversial information right on the verge of an election," Kaine said.