Updated 5:15 p.m.
Timothy M. Kaine (D) is seeking to capitalize on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) controversial stance on Social Security, using the issue to raise money for his Senate campaign and bash the leading Republican primary candidate, ex-Sen. George Allen (R), in the process.
Kaine, the former Virginia governor running to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D), is sending an e-mail out to supporters Thursday with the subject line “Ponzi scheme?” The message notes that Perry, who made headlines Wednesday night on this topic at the GOP presidential debate, has used that term to describe Social Security and has also branded the program a “failure.”
“George Allen voted to privatize the program when he was a Senator,” the message says. “These guys just can’t be trusted with our Social Security benefits. This is what’s at stake with this Senate race – and I’m counting on your help to make sure we’re successful.”
Kaine then asks supporters to send along money to help him in “[c]utting through the noise of the Presidential campaign in Virginia .” And he notes that Perry is scheduled to headline a Republican Party of Virginia fundraiser in Richmond next week.
The vote by Allen referred to in the e-mail came in 2006, in support of the Bush administration’s proposal to create private Social Security retirement accounts.
The Kaine camp is also launching an a targeted ad campaign on Facebook and other sites highlighting the Social Security issue.
In response, Allen’s campaign suggested Kaine was playing politics with an important issue.
“George Allen believes we need to work together to save Social Seciurity, and that’s not going to happen hanging out in Chicago with President Obama’s big-money bundlers,” said Allen spokesman B ill Riggs, referring to Kaine’s holding two Chicago fundraisers Thursday.
Kaine’s move reflects what Democratic campaigns in other parts of the country will likely do as well, illustrating why some Republicans believe Perry’s Social Security comments could be a serious problem for his campaign and even for the party as a whole.