Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine sometimes requires a kind and tactful audience. He is, after all, the man who addressed the United Negro College Fund and transformed its slogan — “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” — into “what a waste it is to lose one’s mind.” Mr. Kaine thus owes a debt to a 12-year-old student who displayed an initial talent for diplomacy when the Vice Presidential candidate called on his school last week.
William Figueroa is a student at Rivera Elementary School in Trenton, N.J. On a campaign stop while Hillary Clinton took time off to practice for Monday’s debate, Kaine visited William’s class and conducted a spelling bee. The boy, as nervous, presumably, as any 12-year-old would be in that situation, was asked to go to the blackboard and spell the word “potato.” Which he did. Correctly.
Mr. Kaine, however, didn’t see it that way. He glanced at a cue card, which spelled the word “potatoe.” At the Vice Presidential Candidate’s urging, William added the erroneous e .
“I knew he was wrong, really,” the boy explained later. “He’s trying to get the Vice President job and I couldn’t argue with him with all the people there.”
Clearly, William Figueroa was thinking quickly. and for himself. Whereas Mr. Kaine, who had just shown the children how to use “President” in a sentence (“The President always tells the Vice President what to do”), was depending on a script.
Unscripted, Kaine often flounders. Even scripted, he suffers frequent embarrassment. With two r’s.