New Politics In The Old Dominion?

governor of virginia Office of the Governor of VA

Political Players is a weekly conversation with the leaders, consultants, and activists who are shaping American politics. This week, CBS News' Brian Goldsmith talked with Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a leading Barack Obama supporter, about religion and politics, guns and the NRA, and whether a Democrat can break the GOP's lock on his state's electoral votes.

CBSNews.com: You've endorsed Senator Obama for president. Many of his supporters seem concerned about his trouble thus far turning all the money and momentum into stronger poll numbers. Do you wonder at all why that hasn't happened yet?

Tim Kaine: Well, I think that the senator got in feeling like he was an underdog, and he has the underdog mentality, which means he is working real hard. Look, do not take anything away from Senator Clinton. She is the frontrunner and a very formidable candidate. But I continue to believe in Senator Obama, and feel like his prospects are really good organizationally in the early states.

This is a very challenging race against a frontrunner. But I think he has got the right attitude about it, and just needs to keep chipping away.

CBSNews.com: If I were an undecided Democratic voter, why should I support Senator Obama over Senator Clinton?

Tim Kaine: I think that the case that Senator Obama makes to undecided voters is if you want a fresh start after eight very troubling years in Washington, put a guy in who has experience as both a state legislator and now at the national level.

That is, experience of bringing people together, being a true uniter rather than a divisive figure, being somebody who is known for ability to work in bipartisan ways, and who really represents in every facet of what he has done a kind of excellence that all Americans can be proud of.

CBSNews.com: You received a very impressive mandate in 2005 in Virginia. A lot of people did not expect you to win that campaign, what lessons do you think Senator Obama could draw from your campaign that would be applicable to helping him do better?

Tim Kaine: Well, I think in some ways the senator has drawn the lessons already. I mean, I do not know if he has drawn them from me. I would flatter myself to say that. But here is what he knows. He knows that you have got to reach out not just to hard-core Democrats, but you need to reach out to the huge number of Americans that are independents, and recognize that there are a lot of moderate Republicans who will cast a vote for a Democrat who is willing to work across Party lines to make things happen.

And I see Senator Obama doing that in some interesting ways. He is running ads in Iowa right now to the Democratic caucus electorate where he talks about bipartisanship--and where Republican legislators he had worked with in Illinois praise his ability to find common ground.

CBSNews.com: Do you think there are any lessons that could be drawn from your experience governing in Virginia that would be a useful template for the next Democratic president?

Tim Kaine: I think it has got to be a heavy focus on results. I think what people tire about in Washington are endless debates about issues that never get resolved. I think the failure of Congress to reach a resolution on immigration this summer was a perfect example.

You have got all kinds of states doing all kinds of different things on climate change policy, including Virginia. The best strategy is an aggressive national strategy. But waiting around has led so many of us states to feel like we can't wait.

I think the senator's track record as a state legislator, and his short time in Washington demonstrates that he can carry that message very strongly.

I'm also a huge believer in issues dealing with education, especially early childhood education. There is strong educational and economic research that high quality early childhood education pays huge dividends. I think that is a very powerful issue that energizes Democrats, but also is really attractive to independents and moderate Republicans.
  • Brian Goldsmith

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