Virginia's U.S. Senate candidates Tim Kaine and George Allen agree on this: the country is at a crossroads. On Tuesday night, Kaine, a former Virginia governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, spoke to hundreds of supporters at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria.
“It's very common for people to talk about being small government fiscal conservatives, but when they’re in office jack spending way up, vote for the debt limit, increase deficits,” Kaine said. “People talk a good game, but then they don’t act. But we know how to do it here in Virginia.”
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, who preceded Kaine as governor, hosted the event. “We’re looking at a $14 trillion debt, we’re looking at challenges and opportunities throughout the Middle East that we have not seen in 25 years,” he said.
“And we have many members of Congress, who, rather than trying to work…to take on those challenges, draw bright lines everywhere on issues from a cavalier attitude about shutting down the federal government to playing politics with the debt ceiling,” Warner said.
While Kaine never referred to his likely opponent by name, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) was openly critical. “This is going to be a critical election, obviously. This is a referendum on priorities, on how this country is going,” Moran said. “You have somebody whose judgment you can’t trust, really. Look at what he says, and, in fact, what he did in the Senate. George Allen, it turns out, voted to increase the debt ceiling in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006.
"He also voted to start two wars that were never paid for, voted to increase Medicare entitlements under prescription drugs under the provision that prohibits the government on negotiating on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries to take advantage of that population,” Moran said.
Kaine barely leads Allen 46% to 44%, according to a recent independent poll by Public Policy Polling. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-4.2%, surveyed 547 Virginia voters. “We are a battleground state, right down the middle,” Kaine said. “You’re not going to win a race or lose a race because of the letter in front of your name. You’re going to win or lose a race because of the work that you do and the vision that you lay out.”
Kaine was mayor of Richmond from 1998-2000, Virginia’s lieutenant governor from 2002-2006 and governor from 2006-2010. “I drew the straw being governor during the worst economy since the 1930s. I had to make billions of dollars worth of budget cuts, but we kept our unemployment rate dramatically less than the national average, our median income high, we were named best state for business, we attracted businesses to Virginia – even in a tough time,” he said. “You can do cuts, but…you’ve got to have people who have the backbone to do [them], but more importantly, have the intelligence to know how to do them the right way.”
Kaine’s election would support President Barack Obama, said Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, a Democrat. “We are at a tipping point of turning this country around, and getting back to being the nation not only that we can be proud of, but the world as well,” Euille said. “We have a leader and President Obama is working hard for change, but he needs help. It’s America’s time. It’s our time to take this country back, make a difference in the lives of not only Americans, but the entire world.”