Former governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, engaged in a discussion with students and Fredericksburg community members while speaking about his 2012 campaign for the United States Senate this past Saturday in Lee Hall.
Along with Kaine was Adam Cook, Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District, and former Virginia senator, Edd Houck.
Houck and Cook introduced Kaine and spoke of the importance of the 2012 election, and the vital role that Virginia has in the election.
Cook spoke first, talking about his own campaign for Congress and clarifying that he is 34-years-old, and not as young as he may look.
Answering the question of why he wanted to run for Congress, Cook spoke of “what Congress wasn’t doing,” while he was serving in the military in 2011 when the Republicans took over the House of Representatives and how this influenced his decision to run.
“I saw a Congress that really couldn’t even execute the most basic forms of government,” Cook said. “It was those kinds of contrasting experiences that convinced me that we need some new faces in Congress, we need some new leadership, we need people that have worked in an environment where failure is not an option.”
Cook ended by speaking about the impact that Virginia can make in the 2012 election, and the importance of keeping the Senate in Democratic hands.
With an applause following, he concluded stating, “I’m absolutely convinced that we can do it.”
Houck followed Cook’s introduction, declaring, “Yes, I’m still alive,” and thanking the audience for their hard work in his recent 2011 campaign, which he lost to Republican candidate Bryce Reeves, current Virginia senator.
Houck spoke of the importance of elections, and the “bigger picture.”
Houck started by asking the audience loudly, “Do you like what’s going on at the state capital right now in Richmond?”
The audience answered with a resounding, “No.”
Houck talked about candidates in elections, saying, “It’s really what the candidates do and how they govern when they’re in office.”
Houck transitioned into speaking specifically about Kaine.
“Tim Kaine, throughout his entire life, has demonstrated putting others before himself. In fact, I would submit, that’s what he’s doing right now,” Houck said. “Tim is once again putting others, the country, people of Virginia, above himself.”
Houck ended by praising Kaine’s work as the previous Virginia governor by stating, “This man has the strongest moral core of any person I’ve had the pleasure to serve with.”
Kaine followed Houck, first thanking both Cook and Houck saying, “I have never had a nicer introduction than that, that is very, very heart warming.”
Kaine began by speaking about his appreciation for Houck, and then about his appreciation for Obama.
“I’m glad we have a president who knows how to end wars,” he said.
He moved on to talking about the 2012 election, calling it a very difficult and expensive election, but declaring, “I think we’re going to win.”
He announced the three issues for this election: the economy and jobs, fiscal responsibility and finding common ground in this country instead of having a strict divide.
Kaine talked of when he was governor in “the worst recession in 70 years.” He lists many companies that moved their headquarters to Virginia because “we were doing some things right.”
From this he has a “simple theory” on how to better the economy; “learn from Virginia,” he said.
“When I was born, Virginia was about 38th in the nation of per capita income, did you know we’re seventh today? Not a single state has moved as far as Virginia has,” he said as proof regarding Virginia’s success.
Kaine spoke of the negative aspects of Virginia 50 years ago but said that, “We decided to break down the barriers.”
“We moved because we decided to embrace talent,” he said. “We grew talent, and we attracted talent, and in the more talent we grew and the more talent we attracted, the more we attracted businesses and institutions that want to be around talent. So, win the talent war, and your economy will get better.”
Regarding the future success of the U.S. economy, Kaine wants to make sure the U.S. wins the “talent war.”
Kaine cited negatives about his Republican opponent, George Allen, numerous times, including his opposing views in economic strategy and spending.
In terms of economic strategy, Kaine said, “His strategy for economic growth is not about talent, it’s about drilling. His basic economic strategy is ‘if we produce more energy, then that’s what’s going to take us to the top.’”
Kaine said, “The most important natural resource is in the world is not oil, it’s brain power, it’s talent.”
In speaking about fiscal responsibility, Kaine talked about the numerous budget cuts, including his own salary, which was necessary when he was governor.
“I had a job to do, I tried to do it with compassion, and I have backbone enough to make hard decisions,” Kaine said regarding the budget cuts.
Finally, Kaine spoke about common ground, talking about his year in Honduras as a missionary.
“I was selected to be mayor [of Richmond] because I had a record of helping people work together,” he said.
While governor of Virginia he had two Republican houses, and he said, “Even the people I disagreed with were my friends. We didn’t let disagreement on an issue poison the relationship,” Kaine said.
Kaine was adamant on building a “coalition for progress,” even with those who may have differing opinions.
In his last five minutes, Kaine spoke about his confidence in where the race is at the moment with Allen, and the importance of Virginia in the 2012 presidential election.
“If the president wins Virginia, mark my words, he is going to have a second term,” Kaine said, “the president is counting on us, the nation depends upon us to produce a good result on election night so that the right values are represented in Washington.”
Brendan Oudekerk, senior and president of the UMW Young Democrats organized the event after Kaine’s campaign reached out to Mary Washington, and spoke well of the event.
“Attendance was awesome, I was really happy with how many people showed up,” said Oudekerk on the amount of community members in the crowd.
Oudekerk was impressed with Kaine’s realistic expectations of the elections turn out and said, “Tim Kaine has a really good feel for how Virginia politics works, and I think he has what it takes to know how to win.”
Sophomore Keegan Cook attended the event and while he doesn’t identify with the party, he saw some positives in Kaine’s economic strategy.
“The economy is obviously something that concerns a lot of us and is a reason why a lot of Republicans or Republican identifying people would vote for a Republican,” Cook said. “But his clear, defined economic strategy is something that I would be willing to vote for as the election progresses.”
When asked about his speech and the positive response from the audience, Kaine also responded, “I felt good. Some of them are there for me, but I would even say even more of them are there because they know 2012 is a big year, they want to help me help the president. There’s a lot of energy.”
Kaine spoke about his many well-received experiences at UMW as well.
“I’ve done a lot of events at Mary Washington over the years, I wanted to do something that would pull Democrats from the region, so this is a place everybody knows. Every time I’ve done an event here, it’s been great,” he said.
Kaine ended by saying, “Every time we’re at Mary Washington, we get a great reception and always walk away with a lot of enthusiasm.”