Posts Tagged ‘George Allen’
Decision Virginia is coming to you this morning from James Madison’s Montpelier. My family and I are guests of the Center for the Constitution, where I am helping produce a series of educational videos on the Constitution. While I am moderating the panel discussions on the Bill of Rights, which will later be part of an online video course through the Close Up Foundation, Karey and the kids are exploring the incredibly beautiful grounds. Including the gardens which are right behind President Madison’s home.
Montpelier is a terrific, perhaps hidden secret in the Commonwealth. It is an easy jaunt from Richmond and there is quite a bit for the kids to do. Our kids are little and my wife has been able to find plenty of places for them to run around and have fun. Their favorite part has to be when the fireflies seem to erupt from the lawn in a fantastic show each evening. Plus the bugs are easy to catch.. even for my 1 and half year old. (Don’t worry we let them all go. No fireflies were hurt in the making of this blog post.)
Unfortunately our little retreat from reality must come to an end this afternoon as we shuffle back down I-64 so I can be home in time to cover today’s Virginia Senate/Congressional Primary. It is a primary that has been largely ignored by the general public, but features two of Virginia’s most prominent politicians, former senator and governor George Allen and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Despite the incredibly important impact this primary could have on the Virginia political scene, there is little evidence that many people will participate. Virgina hasn’t had a Senate primary in recent memory and the last few congressional primaries in other districts have offered minimal interest from the voting public. The expected low turnout would appear to be a to the advantage of the Cantor and Allen, who have built-in name recognition and get out the vote mechanisms that would be successful in a little watched primary. Astute political observer Beau Cribbs points out that voter turnout in the 2006 Virginia Democratic Primary was only 3.45%.
However their opponents would argue that low turnout may be to their advantage, because while their supporters may be a smaller portion of the electorate, are more passionate and willing to brave a rainy day to get out to the polls.
Regardless, Cantor and Allen have not taken anything for granted. Both conducted a voting blitz in the closing days of the primary and have been filling up mailboxes and the emails of their identified supporters. While a win is a win, not winning by a large margin could be perceived by their detractors as a sign of vulnerability heading into November.
Cantor and Allen will be together to celebrate the election results in downtown Richmond tonight.
If you are planning to vote today, the State Board of Elections has put out this handy guide with information on what you need to know to make sure your vote counts.
The questions right now is turnout. How many people will pay attention to today’s vote? I am going to put the voter turnout over/under at 9%. Will it be better than that? (My guess is a little over statewide, a little less in Cantor’s district).
We will have complete coverage of the returns tonight on NBC12.
It is now less than a week before voters go to the polls in Virginia primaries and the most marquee match up of them all has turned out to be anything but exciting. One time senator and governor George Allen will be on the ballot next Tuesday in a primary that his campaign has for the most part publically ignored. Despite a relentless attack from three conservative opponents, there is nothing that indicates that the primary vote will be anything but an easy day for Allen.
It is not from a lack of trying. Each of the candidates has the make up to mimic the kind of uprising that politicians like Allen have faced in other states. Establishment republican candidates like Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Texas and Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah have either lost primaries or been faced into difficult runoff elections or primary votes they were not expecting. Their difficult times are all the result of conservative/tea party support that has coalesced at the right time to push the establishment candidates in to a difficult position.
Despite having all the ingredients for the same type of scenario in Virginia, Allen has survived and arguably thrived as he coasts to the nomination, setting the stage for a one on one titanic showdown with fellow former Gov. Tim Kaine in November.
Why? I’ve come up with five reasons:
1- Divide and Conquer
The fatal mistake the conservative/tea party made came early in this primary campaign. They couldn’t come up with one candidate. By facing three other candidates, Allen has successfully split the loyalty of a small, but active group of voters that would have to be together in order to be successful. Del. Bob Marshall is a hero with social conservatives. Former Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke is popular with the libertarian, fiscally conservative wing (although she is socially conservative herself). Bishop E.W. Jackson is a talented speaker and is able to excite a crowd, but by battling two other challengers, he has been unable to gain any traction.
The lack of outsider unity in challenging the establishment is what drove businessman Tim Donner out of the race. It was something he told me last summer was a necessity in overcoming Allen’s immense natural advantages.
“It is clear that a single challenger to the establishment candidate George Allen will emerge in this race,” he said. He went on to say that if was not him he’d get out-of-the-way. “I will not do anything to impede the conservative movement, and impede the movement of grass-roots conservatives.”
Donner got out, but the other three candidates never came together, and he ended up endorsing Allen.
2- Securing the base
One thing George Allen never forgot about was his base. The base helped him get elected governor and senator and despite losing in 2006, they were still there for him in a losing effort. Allen knew that it was the base that would guarantee him the nomination in 2012.
While his opponents spent a lot of time reaching out to “non-traditional” political groups, like the tea party, Allen appeared at every traditional GOP event that would have him. Women Republican Club Teas, Golf outings for legislators seeking re-election, Congressional Committee meetings. If grassroots republicans were meeting, Allen was there. There was no meeting he was above and many of those still volunteering at these events were raised on his campaigns for governor and senator. They were all too happy to have him and continue to support him.
Allen’s rock solid support from the base was most evident when the influential righty blog Bearing Drift offered their formal endorsement Monday night.
3- Raising money
No matter how hard these candidates tried, there was just no possible way for them to overcome the ability of a former governor and senator to raise money. Money not just from Virginia but from across the country. The massive cash advantage allowed Allen to hire a great deal of full-time staff. It allowed him to travel the state with ease, build a state infrastructure and take away any type of advantage his opponents could hope to muster.
Granted, in the toppling of establishment candidates, the momentum of the movement overwhelmed significant cash advantages. But in Virginia that momentum never materialized and Allen was able to stifle any appearance of it with spending.
4- No high-profile endorsements
Or perhaps this should say.. “no high-profile endorsements of anyone but Allen”. Allen quickly gobbled up the endorsement of Gov. Bob McDonnell, Rep. Eric Cantor and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. He successfully (at least for now) kept the unpredictable Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli out of the race and even earned the support of high-profile tea party favorites like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Meanwhile, his opponents stumbled over opportunities to get national voices to endorse their campaign and bring with it the attention that could lead to money and momentum. Former Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has offered her support in a few of these races, has seem disinterested in joining the fray, despite her similarities with Radtke. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint has been noticeably absent. Radtke thought she had the endorsement of influential republican blogger Erik Erickson, only to have it taken away after an embarrassing conflict at Erickson’s annual Red State event.
This category is in flux because one of these endorsements could still come in with less than a week to go. But the chances of it having a game changing impact at this point are slim.
5- Hard work
This category might be best illustrated through a personal anecdote. It was December of 2010, a cold night in South Richmond. Former Senator George Allen was scheduled to appear at a forum on education with former DPVA chair Paul Goldman. I had received a press advisory so I thought it would be worth it to check it out. Allen had not announced his plans to run, but everyone assumed he was going to. Keep in mind this was just a little less than two years before the 2012 election.
I got to a small community center on the south side and there was no one there. Literally. The doors were locked. We had to be let in by a night janitor. We thought we were in the wrong place. He told us no, there was something happening, but we were just a little early.
About 20 minutes later, a few people trickled in. By the time it was time for the event to start, there may have been 20 people in attendance. Allen was among them. A one time governor, senator and even potential candidate for president came in ready to wax poetic on his thoughts on school choice and private/public education partnerships to a group about the size of a small church choir. We talked for a bit about his potential campaign, and then we left. He stayed. The event was scheduled to go for two hours, on a weeknight, three weeks before Christmas.
I said to my photographer Jerry Brown as we were leaving “there is NO way this guy is not running.”
Of course he was, and of course he knew what it was going to take to win. This is not to suggest that any of Allen’s opponents have not been working just as hard. I believe they actually are. But the difference between Allen and his contemporaries in other states is that they assumed that being who they were was enough to win. 2006 was clearly a wake up call for a man who did not really know what it was like to fail and its clear he doesn’t want something like that to happen again.
Now, I firmly believe that we truly have no idea what could happen on Tuesday and I am confident to leave the outcome to the voters. The point of this post was to illustrate why I believe Allen is in a strong position to win. The hardest part for this Virginia political heavyweight is that the hard work hasn’t really begun. If he is fortunate to get past this initial test, he has the biggest fight of his political life ahead of him.
Just one of the many reasons it will be the most watched race in the country.
The name Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) probably doesn’t mean much to the average voter in Virginia. But U.S. Senate candidate George Allen (R) wasn’t necessarily looking to impress the “average” voter when he announced Johnson’s support of his campaign and then brought him on the stump with him Friday in Richmond.
Johnson is a wealthy businessman who ran a largely self-financed campaign to sweep long time liberal Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) from office. Johnson received a great deal of support from the Tea Party and is happy to be associated with the movement. A fiscal deficit hawk, Johnson supports deep spending cuts and is strongly opposed to the health care reform act and the federal stimulus.
Allen has a lukewarm connection with tea partiers in Virginia. One of the most prominent tea party leaders in the Commonwealth, Chesterfield’s Jamie Radtke decided to run against him in the upcoming republican primary. He has had a mixed success appealing to local tea party groups as he looks to seal up the nomination. Allen rarely appeals directly to the tea party but once said he was an “original member” of the tea party.
Allen’s biggest problem with the Tea Party comes from his last time in the Senate. Six years of supporting largely Republican led proposals that bumped up the federal debt and is a period of time that hard-core Tea Party members are very critical of. Johnson’s visit to Virginia it allowed his critics to remind voters about that time in office. Both Radtke on the right and the democrats on the left were all to eager to dredge up the past.
Radtke released a very critical web video that called Allen out for his support for “40,000 earmarks”. Web videos rarely have widespread appeal, but Radkte got a big bump when PolitiFact Virginia chose to rate the claim. Their “mostly true” rating pushed the video to a much wider audience. (It was in our PolitiFact Virginia report this week on NBC12). Democrats meanwhile had a field day pointing out the mixed message Allen has had with earmarks, saying he was “proud” of the ones he had brought back to Virginia and said they were ok, as long as they were accompanied by detailed information as to who proposed them.
Johnson worked to rein in the criticism of Allen in event today at Bill’s BBQ in Richmond. He strongly supported the former governor and senator’s leadership skills. Johnson argued that while progress is being made in Washington, real change hasn’t occurred because the Congress needs more people with Allen’s experience and ability to bring people together. He also said that Allen’s first go around in Washington was much different than things are now.
“Last time George Allen was in the senate we had manageable deficits,” said Johnson. ”Nobody liked them at all, but at least they were manageable.”
Despite the lack of rousing support from the Tea Party, there is simply no evidence that Allen is suffering. The few polls taken on the GOP primary show him with very large leads and he is neck and neck with his democratic opponent Tim Kaine in just about every poll. It is clear that Allen’s effort to reach out to that wing of the party is subtle. When we asked him about what role they will play in his election, he said they were important but went out of his way not to single them out.
“We are getting good support from a lot of folks,” Allen said, he went on to say, “We are welcoming every one to the A- Team.”
This won’t be the end of Allen’s effort and it will likely continue beyond the primary. The Republican nominee, no matter who they may be, will want the passionate support of the Tea Party to help push them over the hump come November in what is destined to be a razor thin election.
See clips from our interview with Johnson and Allen below:
The full release from today’s Allen event with Johnson can be found after the jump:
Despite being in the midst of a contentious and serious battle for the 2012 federal elections. Virginia politicos are preparing for what could be an incredibly competitive 2013. Several candidates on both sides are either publicly or quietly mulling a run for statewide office. At this point the most of the conversations are speculative and the large field that currently exists will certainly be widdled down by the time voters are actually forced to make decisions. However with the active and ambitious crop being discussed heated primaries and/or state party conventions are almost certain.
Republicans are already dealing with a holy war at the top of their ticket between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. The Bolling- Cuccinelli feud may be only part of what the GOP will be dealing with. A number of candidates are considering runs for Lt. Governor and Attorney General that if they hold it could mean competitive nominating contests on all levels.
A particularly interesting battle is setting up in the republican Lt. Governor’s race. Wednesday, the ambitious Chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart formally entered the race. Stewart is well-known in political circles, in part because of the numerous times he has tossed his name into prospective statewide races only to back away. Most recently Stewart seriously considering running for the open U.S. Senate seat. He even went as far to say some pretty critical things about former Senator George Allen, who he later endorsed.
On First at 4, Stewart told me that the timing was right for him to run statewide this time.
“We’ve been able to reduce taxes, we’ve cut spending by more than $143 million dollars (in Prince William County) instituted some good budgetary reforms while still putting a lot more money into transportation, and I’d like to do the same thing for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.
Stewart won’t be alone in the race for the state’s second spot. Pete Snyder, the wealthy technology entrepreneur and ally of Governor Bob McDonnell is also mulling a run. Snyder is getting quite a bit of face time in his role as the Virginia GOP’s chief fundraiser. He appeared on First at 4 a couple of weeks ago.
The republicans also have several candidates considering a run for Attorney General, the most prominent, Harrisonburg Senator Mark Obenshain and Charlottesville Delegate Rob Bell.
But too many candidates for not enough positions is not a problem exclusive to republicans. multiple candidates are lining up on the democratic side. State Senator Chap Petersen has already set up a PAC and has said he plans a gubernatorial run. Former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe is widely expected to make another run. This is of course if the long running rumor that Senator Mark Warner would like to come back to Richmond, turns out to be just a rumor.
The lower parts of the ticket aren’t quite lined up as orderly as their counterparts on the republican side, but prominent democrats are being floated in those positions as well. Among them, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring and former Delegate Ward Armstrong. Update: Friends of Loudon Democratic Senator Mark Herring emailed to remind me that he has officially begun exploring a run for Attorney General.
There are other names being whispered as well. Former candidate for Lt. Governor Michael Signer and his close friend former Rep. Tom Perriello both have been suggested as statewide candidates. Henrico Sen. Don McEachin ran for Attorney General before and could be thrown into the mix and a new rising start, Alexandria Del. Charniele Herring hasn’t formally talked about running statewide, but was a key voice in the battle over abortion in this year’s General Assembly session and might be a name brought up in the future.
So much of this talk is just that talk. Names thrown into the air to see what the reception is to gauge the possibility of investing, time, energy and quite a bit of money into running statewide. That is what make’s the Stewart announcement so significant. He is all in. More than a year before anyone will be forced to make a decision about who they would like as their nominee.
Will getting out first pay off? Stewart is betting it will. It is a question we won’t know the answer to, until we get through the first brutal election still in front of us.
Our full interview with Chairman Stewart can be found below:
Stewart’s full announcement can be found after the jump:
Despite George Allen‘s resistance to come to come to some sort of an agreement on campaign deal to end “secret money” in the Virginia senate race, The Kaine campaign is not ready to back down. Today they released a web video with news clips of Tuesday’s coverage of the challenge and included a clip from Allen’s 2000 run for senate, where he talks about the importance of disclosing the source of campaign funds.
The clip is a segment from a debate between Allen and then incumbent Sen. Chuck Robb (D).
“We need disclosure so we know who is contributing to these campaigns,” said Allen. ”And I think that the people of Virginia ought to know who is making those contributions.”
Here is the Kaine web video, the clip from the debate hits at at about :34 seconds.
Yesterday, Allen said that is was hard to take Kaine’s claims of transparency seriously when he was recieving funds from out of state labor groups like the AFL-CIO which often pick candidates without the full consent of their membership. Today the National Republican Senatorial Committee echoed that charge. His campaign also argued that an agreement like this is impossible and was nothing more than a ‘Washington political stunt.”
Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that Kaine himself will soon benefit from a SuperPac of his own. A group of democratic consultants have formed the PAC and expect to launch soon.
“If Tim Kaine is truly serious about restoring transparency and accountability in our campaign finance laws, why does he support a mandatory union donation system in which hard-working men and women in Virginia have money stripped from their paychecks every month without their say?” asked Brian Walsh, an NRSC spokesman.
Lily Adams Kaine’s press secretary said “It is unfortunate that George Allen’s inside-the-beltway mentality has caused him to now abandon Virginia’s long-held principle of campaign disclosure after he publicly embraced it multiple times.”
It was a spark first lit back in December during the first, and so far only, debate for U.S. Senate from Virginia. I asked former Senator George Allen (R) his opinion of third-party spending in his race especially after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
Here is the entire exchange unedited:
In case you missed it.. or didn’t feel like watching the video, Gov. Tim Kaine challenged Allen to tell the third party groups to stay out of Virginia.
At the post-debate in the press gaggle, Allen essentially closed any door that he might be open to teaming up with Kaine on a no-SuperPac pledge. After a few months, and the day after a new pro-allen SuperPac launched, the Kaine team decided to embrace Allen’s stance that he supports the way Virginia handles campaign finance. Essentially, unlimited donations but full disclosure where those donations are coming from.
Kaine sent Allen a letter asking him to have the two campaigns meet to carve out a plan to keep third-party “secret” money out of the Virginia senate campaign.
More from my story on NBC12.com:
RICHMOND (WWBT)- A unique proposal in the race for U.S. Senate, Tim Kaine is asking his likely opponent George Allen to team up to ask third-party groups, with secret donors to stay out of Virginia.
This proposal was borne out of a question I asked during a debate in December as part of our “Buying a Voice” segment.
The Allen camp calls Kaine’s idea: “A Washington political gimmick”
Despite being 10 months away from the election third-party groups are pouring cash into Virginia. Tim Kaine told me that Virginians deserve to know where the cash is coming from.
“If you won’t agree to no SuperPacs,” said Kaine “At least we should all be to agree no secret money.”
Kaine thinks Allen should be on board with the plan, based on what he said in the December debate.
“I’ve always been an advocate of ‘disclosure and freedom,’ said Allen.
In a response to Kaine’s request, Allen said it was “Hard to take (Kaine) seriously” because he took a sizeable donation from the AFL-CIO despite hoping to represent a right to work state.
The republican said most union members have no say over where their dues go when it comes to supporting candidates.
…read the full story on NBC12.com
Governor Kaine only spoke to NBC12 about his proposal. Our full interview with him can be found below:
See the transcripts of the letters from both campaigns after the jump.
If the 2012 Virginia General Assembly accomplishes nothing else this year, it will at least be able to claim the mantle of the state legislative body with the most headlines. Controversial debates over social issues, guns and education, has Virginia splashed all over national web sites and newspapers for the last two months.
Many of those headlines come directly from legislation authored by the colorful and provocative Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William). The conservative delegate, who is also running for in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate has always been outspoken on issues like abortion and gay rights. He is the author of HB-1 a bill that would designate life beginning at conception. A policy commonly called “personhood”. Marshall is also a strong support of a measure that would require woman seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound prior to the procedure.
The heated debate over those issues led Saturday Night Live to group the Virginia in with other hot button issues related to abortion and contraception. In a segment called “Really? with Seth & Amy” Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler mocked Marshall and his colleagues for supporting personhood and ultrasounds before abortions.
“The Virginia House of Representatives this week passed a bill that required women to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. Really?’ asked Poehler. ”Now don’t get me wrong. I love transvaginal. It’s my favorite airline.”
Marshall hadn’t seen the sketch before our Sarah Bloom asked him about it. He took time to watch it and then called her back. Then he came down to NBC12 to respond on camera.. and provide a little comedy of his own.
“I was scandalized, shocked at the rampant sexist nature of this,” said Marshall, with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. ”I mean for example, that chauvinist Seth answers a question about pregnancy when in fact, it should have been Baby Momma who answers the question about pregnancy. I’ll bet Seth has never been pregnant.”
Of course personhood is Marshall’s signature bill. Filed as HB-1 before any other legislation. Meyers enjoyed poking fun at that as well.
“They also passed a bill saying life begins at conception. What’s next?’ asked Meyers. ”Life begins at last call? Life begins when you press send on your Match.com profile?”
Marshall told Sarah that he thought they could do better than that.
“If it’s up to me, look, we tell kids in Virginia 3rd graders, that life begins when sperm and egg meet. They’re kids…what do they know? Adults know life beings when the kids get married and leave home,” Marshall joked. “That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.”
But while the fiery delegate was quick to return his version of comedic fire, he got serious in defense of the bill claiming the media and pro-choice protestors have it all wrong.
“People need to read the bill. This doesn’t do any of the stuff that 95% of the people are saying out there,” he said. ”It doesn’t abolish abortion, it doesn’t get rid of birth control, it doesn’t affect in-vitro.”
Marshall pointed to a similar standard passed in Missouri in 1986 that hasn’t outlawed abortion, cut down on in-vitro or contraception. Marshall said the goal is protect a parent’s legal interest in their unborn child.
“Parents have a protectable interest in children,” he said. “It is a legal interest they should have the right to say, I lost a child. I didn’t lose a tadpole or kangaroo or you know, some stuffed bear. This is a person of great importance to me. The law doesn’t’ recognize that right now.”
Of course pro-choice groups, which staged a large silent protest today disagree. They believe Marshall’s bill is part of a slow creep to end abortion at minimum and outlaw contraception at the most.
Marshall who is using his strong conservative credentials as an asset in the race for U.S. Senate credited his primary opponent, former senator George Allen for being on the same page with him on personhood. “He supports House Bill 1,” said Marshall. ”Yes, I thank him for that. Yes, I do.”
You can see Sarah’s entire story here.
Extended clips of Sarah’s interview with Del. Marshall can be found below:
It has, and undoubtably will continue to be, one of the prevailing themes of the 2012 campaign for Virginia Senate. How close is Tim Kaine to President Barack Obama? The obvious answer is very close. Each time the president is forced to confront a difficult decision, Kaine is also forced to give his take. Quietly, Kaine has picked opportunities to build some space between he and Obama. Most of those occasions are never clear-cut, and regularly couched in an overriding appreciation of the president as a friend and as a leader. But make no mistake, Kaine is working to build his own image in a race where the president’s perception could have an overwhelming impact on the race for Senate.
The latest came in an interview with public radio station WRHV in Hampton Roads. Kaine was asked by the host Cathy Lewis what he thought of the confrontation between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church over mandatory coverage for contraception by intuitions operated by the Church. Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services has determined that facilities such as Catholic hospitals must provide the coverage for free, despite the Church’s moral opposition to contraception. Kaine said he thought the requirement went a bit too far.
“This is something that’s been talked about a lot today and I have definitely expressed my grave concerns to the White House about that,” Kaine said. ”I support the contraception mandate but there should be a religious employer exemption that is broader than the one they proposed.”
The Washington Post’s Ben Pershing picked up the conversation and his blog post quickly spread like wildfire to national political journalists who are aware of the Kaine-Obama connection and it’s implication on the Virginia Senate Race.
Kaine’s campaign was quick to damper down some of the talk. They made sure to point out that former Virginia governor still believes the overall contraception mandate makes sense, but just believes the exemption should extend further than what HHS has dictated.
This back and forth is pretty typical of a Kaine parts with Obama moment. The headline comes out “Kaine parts with Obama”. The tweets and blogposts follow and then the Kaine team does a bit of work to temper the idea that their candidate has strayed too far from the president, but make clear exactly where the two differ.
Case in point. During an interview with me on First at 4 back in September, Kaine split with the president on raising the tax rate on capital gains and he said he supported a higher sunset rate for the Bush tax cuts. Just like the contraception issue, Kaine supports the president’s broad policy, but finds subtle differences where he can build some space.
But that is not all.
Kaine called on the Obama administration to continue their study of the Keystone XL pipeline, instead of turning the project down. He believed the president should’ve gone to the Congress before taking any military action in Libya and he was disappointed when the Obama administration passed by Virginia as a potential site to explore off shore drilling.
It will be impossible for Kaine to completely escape the specter of Obama and he knows it. He once told me that when it comes to he and the president, “I’ve got my own views on some things and he and I some times have some pleasant and some times spirited disagreement on this or that. But on most issues we see things the same way.” That is why the Kaine team welcomes polls like today’s that shows Obama (and them) with a slight lead in Virginia.
But while Kaine wiggles an every so small space between he and Obama, George Allen will continue to pound home his belief that his fellow former governor will be nothing more than a rubber stamp for a Obama agenda.
National republicans have already pounced on Kaine’s statements on the contraception debate, tying it to his overall strong support for the health care reform law.
“If Tim Kaine is truly concerned with government overreach today,” asked Brian Walsh of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. ’Why didn’t he listen to the countless Virginians and Americans across the country who expressed these same concerns BEFORE he joined with President Obama to help ram ObamaCare through the Congress?”
So between now and election day, expect every moment of new difference between Kaine and Obama to become big news stories. No matter how small the issue may be.
The Keystone XL pipeline project is a hot topic in Washington. A debate filled with claims of enormous promise, scary consequences and just about everything in between. Candidates have lined up on either side of the debate and even though the proposed project would take place hundreds of miles away from Virginia, it is becoming a big issue here.
Senate candidate George Allen is using Keystone and President Barack Obama‘s decision to turn down the project, as a way to corner his likely opponent Tim Kaine. Allen accuses Kaine of supporting Obama’s decision and claims it is an example of Kaine putting his tight relationship with President Obama ahead of the job concerns of his would-be constituents.
Allen’s campaign emphasised that point by releasing this devastating web video:
Allen fully supports the Keystone XL project and has worked hard to highlight Kaine’s uncertainty on the issue. Their goal is to make it appear that Kaine won’t make a move without making sure it is okay first with the president.
But Kaine forcefully defended his Keystone position and accused Allen of taking an hypocritical approach to the project. The Kaine team pointed out that while Allen has pushed for approval of the Keystone project, he has taken a rather tepid approach to the issue of expanding uranium mining in Virginia. Allen has said that Virginia needs to be certain of enviornmental and health concerns before moving forward on uranium.
The Kaine team pointed to a critical Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial that compares the approach of Virginia republicans to uranium to the president’s approach to Keystone. Just as Allen has tied Kaine to Obama, Kaine is working to tie his potential opponent to the massive oil companies that could benefit from a project like Keystone.
“George Allen had the chance to prove that he’d be an independent voice for the Commonwealth and the nation,” said Kaine communications director Brandi Hoffine. ”Instead he’s proven that, if reelected to the U.S. Senate, he’ll continue to be a rubber stamp for oil companies who do not need his help to turn a profit.”
While the Keystone project has now become nothing more than a political talking point, Senator Mark Warner, a democrat and an ally of Kaine believes the White House should consider revisiting the concept.
“I think it should come up again,” Warner said in an interview on First at 4.
Warner believes that the cautious approach to Keystone was the right one and if handled correctly, it could solve a major U.S. problem.
“I think we very much need an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy,” he said. ”Use our natural resources, promote renewables, use nuclear, but we have to make sure we get off of that mideast oil, and this would’ve taken us in that direction.”
But much like Kaine who chided republicans in Washington from turning the deliberative process of Keystone into a political issue, Warner believed the president was put in a difficult position. “I do think it was a bit of a ‘gotcha’ by forcing the president to decide very quickly,” Warner said.
Kaine has also encouraged the Obama adminstration to revisit the project.
Meanwhile the project is dead in the water, but the political fight is just beginning.