Posts Tagged ‘Tim Kaine’
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.
We knew it would be good and it lived up to the expectations. George Allen and Tim Kaine have both been in debates like this many times and they displayed their abilities to stay on message, attack when the moment was right and back their opponents into positions that will be turned into web ads and YouTube clips that will be passed around for many months to come.
I have a few examples of those moments below, but first, my full debate wrap from NBC12:
RICHMOND (WWBT)- We’re still 11 months away until Virginians pick their next U.S. Senator, but today, Tim Kaine and George Allen were in mid-season form.
The two political pros gave and took their share of attacks in this first debate of the 2012 campaign. The debate was probably not seen by too many people. So Kaine and Allen worked hard to position their opponents in a box that would resonate beyond a small room at the state capitol.
“The deficit has ballooned because of policies George Allen perused when he was a U.S. Senator,” said Kaine.
Meanwhile, early on Allen tagged his opponent to the man in the White House.
“On every significant issue, Tim has sided with President Obama and not the people of Virginia,” he said.
As expected, they stuck very closely to carefully prepared talking points. When forced to venture outside their comfort zones, Kaine didn’t mince words when looking back on the macaca incident of 2006 which derailed Allen’s reelection campaign.
“I don’t know why he would say that,” Kaine said, “But for whatever reason he said it is part of the divisive politics that we have to put behind us in this country.”
read and see the rest of the story on NBC12.com.
There were some fireworks in this one including some that could resonate beyond the small room the debate was held in.
Personhood and contraception:
The first was a curious exchange on the proposed “personhood” amendment. A plan that would declare that life begins at conception. Kaine, who is opposed to the concept, claimed it would criminalize contraception. Allen, whose website boasts that he supports the policy, disagreed. That led to this confusing and very specific conversation about female reproduction.
As has been often mentioned, Tim Kaine will be forced to defend his support of President Barack Obama often. That will especially include his role as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Allen used his opportunity to question Kaine to talk about his time as DNC chair. That led to a testy exchange on the topic and Kaine passionately defending the president.
No matter how they might try to deflect it, the Kaine campaign seems prepared to use the incident in 2006 that was the beginning of the end of the Allen campaign. After declaring it “fair game” during a pre-debate conference call, Kaine said his campaign would not use the incident as a tool in their campaign. He then said he was glad Allen has apologized. Then he launched into a scorching criticism of Allen as a name caller and linking the ’06 incident as an indicator of the Republican’s inability to work with others. Make no mistake.. this IS a campaign issue. It is one Allen is clearly hoping to move past. He gave a half-hearted rebuttal and moved on to another topic. He doesn’t want to talk about it all. Kaine’s team seems to content to dredge of an event from 6 years ago as often as they can.
Kaine’s support for Health Care Reform
Finally, despite waning support nationwide and lukewarm support here in Virginia, Kaine is committed to health care reform. He said flatly that he would vote against a repeal and called it one of President Obama’s greatest accomplishments. Allen was ready to pounce. He called it a job killer and an example of Obama’s failed policies.
It is a race that will be closely watched throughout the country. This afternoon, George Allen and Tim Kaine will face off in their first head to head debate of 2012 U.S. Senate campaign.
The debate will be streamed live on TimesDispatch.com and we will have complete coverage tonight on NBC12 and a complete wrap here on Decision Virginia.
As we prepare for the debate, I thought I’d take a look back and some of the things both candidates have said leading up to today.
Allen & The Tea Party:
This debate has received quite a bit of criticism because the Associated Press and the Capitol Correspondents Association decided against including lesser known primary opponents. The Tea Party plans to protest on behalf of their candidate Jamie Radtke. Tim Donner also put out a statement saying today is a “distressing day”. Allen has worked to fight back claims that he is not in line with the Tea Party. Here is what he told me shortly before he announced his intentions about his conservative credentials.
Kaine & President Obama
The Allen Camp has worked hard to make sure that Governor Kaine is linked to President Obama as often as possible. For his part, Kaine rarely wiggles out of that claim. He is proud of his friendship with the president, but tries to point out areas where they disagree. This is what he told me after the president’s recent visit to the University of Richmond:
And one of the areas where he parts from Obama is on capital gains taxes. Listen to his response on the Obama plan to raise revenue through increases in that area.
Allen & Macaca
Try as he might, Allen cannot escape that ill-fated moment on the campaign trail from 2006. He has repeatedly apologized, but democrats do not seem willing to let it go. Here is how he explained it to me on First at 4:00:
“I thought of it as a nonsense word. If I had known the nickname could be considered a racial slur, I would not have said it,” he wrote in his book ,What Washington Can Learn From The World Of Sports. “I apologized to him and take full responsibility for the remark and its aftermath, which should have been handled much better.”
Meanwhile, Kaine and his team are not willing to let the past be the past. During another First at 4:00 interview Kaine said “We are both going to be judged on what we have done and what we’ve said.. And that is fair.” His quote comes towards the end of the interview:
Uncomfortable moments for Allen & Kaine:
Having interviewed both candidates close to a half a dozen times since they became candidates, we have attempted to pin them down on some issues they weren’t necessarily eager to talk about. For Governor Kaine it came during the battle over the debt ceiling. I gave him the chance to weigh in on President Obama’s role in the fight en-light of a vote he took against the debt ceiling when he was Senator. Kaine chose to punt on the question.. telling me he “wasn’t a student of that vote.”
On the other side of the coin, Allen bobbed and weaved for more than 8 minutes when I tried to pin him down on whether he would vote “yes” or “no” on Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial budget plan. He said to me “go ahead and ask the democrat’s question”
One thing is clear, these two men are political titans of the highest caliber. These interviews show them at their best, staying on message and driving home their point.
This afternoon will be fun.
Virginia political heavyweights Tim Kaine and George Allen face off Wednesday in their first debate in what is expected to be one of the most watched political races in the country. Both the Democratic and Republican front runners face primary challengers, but this debate, part of Associated Press Day at the Virginia Capitol, will only feature Kaine and Allen.
I am fortunate to serve as one of the panelist for the debate, along with my esteemed colleagues, Michael Sluss from the Roanoke Times and Bob Lewis from the AP. The debate will be moderated by Bob Gibson the Director of Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.
While I get to ask the questions, I always want to spread the wealth. Tell me what you think we should focus on in this highly anticipated forum. Share your ideas for questions in the comments section, on my Facebook page or shoot me a tweet.
Also tonight on NBC12 we will hold a special Call12 segment where you can call our volunteers and submit your ideas for topics that should be brought up during the debate. The number to call is 804-345-1212, the lines open during NBC12 News at 5.