Republican George Allen thinks he can win by casting his opponent, Tim Kaine, as the president's best friend. But Kaine thinks that's how he'll win, too.
RICHMOND, Va. -- In one of the hottest Senate races of 2012, the Democrat and the Republican both have the same campaign strategy: Tie Tim Kaine closely to Barack Obama.
Kaine, the Democratic candidate in the race, is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and his probable Republican opponent, former Sen. George Allen, hopes to hang that fact around his neck. (Both men are also former governors.) The landing page on Allen's website is a video featuring Kaine saying, "I'm an unabashed supporter of the president," with the caption: "President Obama's Senator Tim Kaine." An Allen leaflet features two whole pages of pictures of Kaine with Obama, printed in ominous black and white. He's even put up billboards calling Kaine "President Obama's senator, not Virginia's." The aim is clear: to paint Kaine as a partisan shill for a president whose approval rating in the state was last clocked at an unimpressive 40 percent.
But to Kaine, the idea that he stands with Obama isn't some big "gotcha" -- it's something he's proud of. When Obama held one of two campaign kickoff events in Richmond over the weekend, Kaine gave him a fiery introduction. "You may have heard ... some suggest that it's somehow anti-Virginian to support this president. Do you believe that?" Kaine asked the crowd at Virginia Commonwealth University. "I believe virtually all Virginians want our president to succeed, regardless of party, because when our president succeeds, our nation succeeds." After ticking off some pro-Obama talking points, he pronounced: "I am a proud friend and supporter of this president."