Timothy M. Kaine told the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte Tuesday that November’s election presents a “real choice” between differing visions of governance, and portrayed Virginia as a case study in how Democrats can succeed.
Kaine, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, addressed the convention in a new guise — as the party nominee in Virginia’s marquee Senate race, where he faces fellow former governor George Allen (R) for the right to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D).
Kaine noted that Virginia has become a genuine battleground state, as President Obama was the first Democrat to win the commonwealth in more than 40 years. Both parties view the state as vital to determining who will hold the White House come January.
“How did Virginia go from red to purple?” Kaine asked. “We did it with grassroots excitement and hard work. And we showed Virginians that Democrats get results.”
Allen, who skipped the GOP convention in Tampa last week, has sought to use Kaine’s DNC service as a way to tar the Democrat as excessively partisan and wedded to Obama’s more controversial initiatives.
But as has been the race throughout the Senate contest, Kaine — who spoke just before Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, and well before the major networks picked up coverage — did not shy away from Obama or his policies Tuesday, praising him for putting ”results ahead of ideology.”
“He said he’d end the war in Iraq and he has,” Kaine said. “He said he’d draw down troops in Afghanistan and today every Virginia National Guard unit is home for the first time in a decade and we’re so happy. He said he’d go after Al Qaeda and take out bin Laden. And with our great SEAL team, that’s exactly what he did. He said he’d try something that Teddy Roosevelt first talked about — reforming [our] health care system — and he did.”
Obama, Kaine said, “is a tough leader who gets results for the American public.”
And while he worked across the aisle as governor to get things done, Kaine contended, Republicans have for the last four years “pushed ideology and wedge issues. Just last week, they passed a platform demanding privacy for super PACs and denying privacy to women making health care decisions.”
Even before Kaine spoke, Republicans made clear how they would frame his speech in the larger campaign narrative.
“Tim Kaine is right at home with Democrat party loyalists praising him for championing President Obama’s failed tax, borrow and spend agenda while leaving Virginians behind,” said Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis. “As Governor, Tim Kaine chose to chair the Democratic National Committee instead of focusing his sole attention on Virginians struggling to find jobs, afford college and make ends meet.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee also weighed in, dubbing Kaine “the number one cheerleader” for Obama’s policies.