Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) predicted Tuesday that Hillary Clinton would win Virginia in the 2016 presidential election, but he said he didn’t expect it to be easy.
A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday from the state has three Republican presidential contenders polling within Clinton’s margin of error. Kaine said he was not “overly” concerned.
“I think she’s going to win Virginia; I think if she wins Virginia she’s going to win the nation,” said Kaine. “There’s no scenario for a Democratic landslide in Virginia. We are still too battleground-ish ... But it is a very winnable race and I think that if the race was today, she would win. Virginia being Virginia, nobody should take anything for granted.”
Kaine spoke after a live interview with WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi in Arlington, Va., that focused on military and financial issues.
The senator admitted that he’s a reluctant member of the Senate Budget Committee.
When he was elected in 2012, he told Nnamdi, veterans warned him that he would get one committee assignment he didn’t want. For him, it was the budget.
“I didn’t want to be on the budget committee,” he said, because he knew it had been years since the Senate actually passed a budget. He and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) are pushing for the federal government to adopt the two-year budget cycle used in Virginia state government.
“How do you make it sexy?” Kaine asked, responding to a question about the lack of public interest in the process. “I mean, I would just like to make a budget.”
In part because of the sequestration cuts imposed due to congressional gridlock, Kaine said, the United States is falling behind in preparing for cyber warfare.
“I don’t feel confident that ... in the area of cybersecurity the U.S. is the global leader,” he said, referencing the recent Office of Personel Management hacks. “I don’t think we’ve really thought through these cyber issues.”
Among those issues, he said, is when a cyberattack qualifies as a war, and what the country’s doctrine of deterrence is to avoid cyberwarfare.
Addressing last week’s deadly rampage at a recruiting center in Chattanooga, Kaine agreed with his successor, presidential candidate Jim Webb (D), that at least some military personnel should be able to carry firearms.
“One of the heartbreaking lessons of that is those folks might have been able to protect themselves,” he said.
Kaine praised Webb, saying he was “very, very fond” of the Vietnam veteran and author. He highlighted his work on a new G.I. Bill and racial disparities in the prison system.
“He brought something to the Senate that was very unique,” Kaine said.
After the event, he said he had not talked to Webb since the former senator declared his intentions to run for president. But he said he was proud of all five Democratic candidates in the race.
“They’re not going around because they just want to sell a few books; they want to get on a talk show, they want to get on a debate and say something funny,” he said. “None of them are saying things that are alienating huge swaths of the American public.”
He spoke a day after a new Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Donald Trump leading the field of Republican contenders, even as several of his rivals condemn the media mogul for making inflammatory remarks.