KING GEORGE, Virginia (STPNS) -- Christopher Wiggins

Virginia, a key battleground state for the November election, has turned more purple than red in recent years and this election year has received visit from both presidential candidates and attention from the national media.

This week King George, Fredericksburg and Stafford received a lot of attention from former Virginia governor and current candidate for the United States Senate Timothy M. Kaine, who makes it a point to say to everybody he meets and addresses him as “governor” to “please call me Tim.”  

Kaine is leading in most polls against his Republican challenger, former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen.  Allen is perhaps most known nationwide for his Senate reelection loss when he used an epithet in 2006 toward an aide of his opponent, Jim Webb, the Democrat who succeeded in unseating Allen.  Kaine and Allen are vying for Webb’s Senate seat which he will vacate at the end of this term.

“We feel pretty good about [the polls] and it’s very close” Kaine said. “I think that I will be close on Election Day, but in terms of just the trends, that we have been able to incrementally improve even in the onslaught of all these false negative ads.”   He added, “I mean the Allen campaign has all these ads that are running and being run by groups who will not tell Virginians who their donors are and when I challenged him on it, he said ‘no keeping them secret is what we want to do.’”  

Kaine said, “That’s his way of doing politics, that’s not mine.  I think openness and transparency is better. But the fact that they’ve been running all these ads, many of them false, many of them funded by these secret groups, but they have not been able to stop our progress.  That makes us feel good.”

Kaine, who is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, albeit with some tweaks he would like to see implemented, had a busy schedule on Saturday as he made several stops in this area campaigning and meeting with supporters and volunteers.

Kaine Across Our Region

Kaine started his day in Fredericksburg at the State Central Committee meeting after which he was whisked off to Stafford where he helped enthusiastic volunteers kick off a canvassing campaign. At the Stafford stop Kaine took time to speak with supporters, take pictures, and to hold a baby or two; he also took the time to speak exclusively to The Journal’s Christopher Wiggins.

“I feel good,” Kaine said with a smile on his face and pep in his step. “Today’s going to be a great day.”

Kaine was looking forward to attending Senator Mark Warner’s (D-VA) annual pig roast at his sprawling home and farm in King George, where Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton would meet him, before moving on with his schedule.

“[Senator Warner] does this picnic every year which is kind of a big deal,” Kaine said, “and then I have my event in Charlottesville tonight, so it’s a busy day. My wife is joining me at Mark’s and then doing the Charlottesville event so that’s fun, whenever we are doing events together.”

One thing Kaine’s wife won’t be able to do together with her husband is be on stage as he and Allen square off in a debate in Fairfax, tomorrow, moderated by NBC News’ Moderator of “Meet the Press,” David Gregory.

Kaine said he was excited for the debate and just about ready.

“I’ve got some work to do,” he said, “we had a debate a month-and-a-half ago and I’ve got a good memory.”

He said he was looking forward to Thursday’s debate because of the issues he feels are important to Virginia voters and he said he was sure Gregory would ask the candidates some good questions.

“There are a lot of issues that are right on everybody’s minds,” he said. “I think George Allen and I have very different points of view, so this will be a debate where the choices will be very clarified for people.”

Unlimited Money for Negative Ads

Regarding the wall-to-wall television advertisements that blanket television screens, particularly in battleground states like Virginia, around this time of year, Kaine said that he knew Virginia voters were smart enough not to subscribe to what he called false and negative ads, many of which are being run by outside groups such as the Super PAC Crossroads GPS, headed by George W. Bush’s former adviser Karl Rove.

“It makes it tougher and more challenging but Virginians aren’t buying it,” Kaine said. “Crossroads GPS is run by Karl Rove and Virginians don’t have a high opinion of him. They know who this group is. Their ads are generally ranked by these fact checking organizations as completely false. Virginians demand a basic level of honesty; if they don’t think you’re given them basic honesty you can run a billion ads and it’s not going to make a difference.”

One particular ad attacks Kaine on the jobs front slamming him for having been governor while Virginians became unemployed.

“He knows it’s not true,” Kaine said as he rattled off reason that call into question the claims made by the negative ads against him. “I was governor in the worst recession since the 1930’s and he says I lost jobs as a governor; well when he was a senator the nation lost a million jobs. These economic cycles are challenging; I feel very proud that being governor during the worst recession in 70 years. Virginia was the most business friendly state in America every year I was governor [according to] Forbes Magazine. We had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States. We had one of the highest median incomes and all you can expect is if your state is leading the pack you’re not doing something wrong, and we were leading the pack in a tough time. And maybe it’s especially helpful to have people who know how to do it during a tough time.”

Kaine said that Virginians care about a number of things and aren’t being guided by negative campaign ads.

He said, “The three questions that people are really grappling with are how to grow the economy, how to fix the budget, how to find common ground and George Allen and I have very different strategies. He says grow the economy with just cutting taxes on just the wealthier—the Exxon Mobils—and cutting regulation. That’s what he did when he was a senator; it didn’t grow the economy, it tanked the economy. You have to invest in infrastructure, you have to invest in small businesses, [and] you have to invest in brain power.”

Kaine criticized Allen on his fiscal policies: “[On] balancing the budget, he says first grow the deficit by extending the Bush tax cuts—make them permanent—and then try to close the deficit by pulling out the meat axe and cutting every last thing: Medicare, education, infrastructure, defense; everything would have to dramatically be cut under his way of doing it.

“I say make a lot of cuts, but also just let the Bush tax cuts expire for people who make more than $500,000.” He said this would create revenue that would help avoid having to make cuts in defense and other programs which, he says, would hurt the economy further.”

Finding Common Ground

Kaine had plenty of criticism for the way Washington, DC worked and how it was broken and in a state of a stale-mate.  He said that the type of political attitudes in Washington these days are unproductive.

He said that if was important to find common ground. “We’re going to find it by putting people in place who know how to listen and find compromise,” Kaine said, “we’re not going to find it by putting people in place that bash the President, bash the other party, name-call, divide—that’s not going to help us.”

Kaine said that Warner is a good example of somebody who is able to build bridges. “He’s working to try to rebuild bridges in the senate” Kaine said. “John Warner used to do that when he was in the senate. We need more bridge builders. It’s Democrats to Republicans, Senate to House, but it’s also Congress to the President,” he said.

“Putting people in who pledge to be obstructionists to the President or pledge that they want to go fight the President [is the wrong approach] —I want to go to Washington to outcompete India and China, I’m not going up to Washington to fight the President. If we spend time fighting each other, then other nations are going to outcompete us; we’ve got to work together and outcompete our global competitors and the notion that what politics is about is an internal fight is incredibly short-sighted and frankly it’s a loser strategy. If you spend your energy on internal fights then our nation won’t be where we need to be.”

King George Event Likely

Asked whether Kaine plans to have any campaign events before the election in King George, he replied, “We’ve definitely done events in the area where a lot of King George folks have attended, but that’s a good question, so I’ll look forward to doing one.”

He turned to an aide who jotted down notes. When Kaine announces his event or events in King George, The Journal will be front-and-center.

Coming Full Circle at Senator Warner’s

Traveling with the Kaine Campaign, the next stop was Senator Mark Warner’s home in King George. Each year Warner invites friends, family, members of the community, local and state officials to his house and farm. Ushered to his home down a beautiful driveway lined with a canopy of trees, hundreds of cars were meticulously guided into rows of parking in a field outside the entrance to Warner’s house.

Passing by the elegant white home his backyard opens up to acres of open space with a swimming pool, access to the water for canoeing and for a good time of sitting around on bales of hay or in lawn chairs. Catered food and drinks, fresh lemonade and beer on tap with barrels of soft-drinks made for an amazing backdrop for people enjoying a late summer afternoon. With low humidity and temperatures in the 80s, Warner couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather to host the perfect afternoon affair.

Warner, who stood in a receiving line for hours, shook hands and took pictures with everyone who wanted to have a few moments with the senator. Every so often an aide would bring him another beer as Warner smiled and greeted every guest with a personal touch and a bit of small-talk.

Among the attendees were King George Volunteer Fire Chief Ted Lovell, author Lisa Pell, King George County Economic Development Director Nicole J. Thompson and Dahlgren Member of the King George Board of Supervisors Ruby Brabo.

Kaine was milling about the crowd and shaking hands, talking with guests who rushed to see him once they recognized him and word got out that he was in attendance. At one point the demand for his attention grew so large that his campaign aides who were passing out Kaine swag had to form a receiving line for the candidate.

“Everyone’s having a great time and so am I,” Kaine said.

One thing Kaine said he knew for sure regardless of what happens in November was his continuing to be involved with the University of Richmond.

Kaine who teaches at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies in the spring and the T.C. Williams School of Law in the fall (both are schools of the University of Richmond), said “I really love UR. I really love to be out there teaching and I’m going to continue my association. No matter what happens, I will continue some relationship with the university.”

Kaine stayed for several hours before he had to leave, but stopped by Warner’s receiving line and thanked him, said good bye and posed for a few photographs.