VA Gov. Kaine backs Obama

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By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 15, 2007
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RICHMOND, Feb. 14 — Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) plans to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president Saturday, pledging early support from a Southern Democrat as the Illinois senator begins his campaign for the White House.

Kaine will sign onto Obama’s presidential team ahead of the senator’s appearance at the Virginia Democratic Party’s annual fundraiser Saturday night, according to sources familiar with Kaine’s decision. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they do not want to preempt the formal announcement.

Kaine’s press secretary, Kevin Hall, declined to confirm the governor’s intentions. A spokesman for Obama was not immediately available for comment Wednesday. Asked about Obama, Kaine grinned and said, “It’s going to be a great day Saturday.”

Kaine, who like Obama is a Harvard-educated civil rights lawyer, has made no secret of his admiration for the senator. Obama campaigned for Kaine in 2005 and joined him on the stump last year on behalf of U.S. Sen. James Webb (D). Obama’s mother was from Kansas, where Kaine grew up.

In an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters last month, Kaine praised the other Democrats running for the 2008 presidential nomination as being part of “a deep field.” He spoke effusively about Obama’s personal charisma and abilities.

“Sen. Obama is just in a completely different category than anybody I’ve ever stood on a stage with,” Kaine said in the Jan. 31 interview. “There is just a feeling of, you know, kind of a projection of hope on him from an audience that is just unreal. It’s unreal.”

Kaine said his time on the campaign trail with Obama has convinced him the first-term senator “is a person who has been through experiences that have given him sound judgment.”

Shaun Kenney, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia, said Kaine’s endorsement of Obama would be in keeping with the political principles of both men.

“I don’t think it’s surprising that a governor who has proposed billion-dollar tax increases will endorse one of the most liberal members of the United States Senate,” Kenney said Wednesday.

For Obama, an endorsement by Kaine on Saturday is an early victory in the competition for critical support among the nation’s governors and in the South.

Virginia has for years been a Republican bastion for presidential candidates. But the victories of Kaine, Webb and former governor Mark R. Warner (D) have convinced many in the party that the state could be up for grabs in the 2008 election.

“Pundits might not say it’s a complete tossup,” Kaine said. “I just don’t think it’s a state to be taken for granted. And I don’t think any smart presidential candidate will take it for granted.”

Kaine had declared his intention to support Warner’s presidential bid before his predecessor bowed out of the race late last year. In the recent Post interview, Kaine joked that Warner’s decision opened the floodgates of interest from Democratic candidates.

“I had a complete pass and nobody was bugging me as long as Mark was running,” Kaine said. “Since Mark got out, yeah, people have called me.”

Kaine’s decision to declare his intentions about Obama’s candidacy almost a year before the first presidential primaries departs from recent tradition in Virginia. Warner endorsed Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) just a few days before the Virginia presidential primary, which Kerry won.

6 thoughts on “VA Gov. Kaine backs Obama

  1. rikyrah

    How early is the VA primary?

    And, have we had any endorsements from the other important early states?

    Iowa? Nevada? New Hampshire?

  2. dblhelix

    It used to be one of the earlier ones — this yr it’s Feb 12th. Same day as DC.

    But w/ so many states moving up, it’s early mid-pack now w/ AL, AZ, AR, DE, MO, NM, NC, UT on Feb 5. CA and a bunch of other states are looking to move up to Feb 5th, including IL and NJ. ME is Feb 10th.

    It’s hard to keep track of w/ all of this rescheduling. All I know for certain is that MD is still scheduled for March 4th w/ CT, MA, NY, OH, RI, TX.

  3. This is quid pro quo, as they say in lawyer areas. Obama stumped for him during the VA governor’s race; it would have looked the height of selfishness (not to mention dissing the Safe Negro concept) if Kaine doesn’t come out for Obama in the Democratic Primary.

    If Obama doesn’t make it out of the primary, watch for Kaine to reverse himself on his support of Obama.

  4. “There is just a feeling of, you know, kind of a projection of hope on him from an audience that is just unreal. It’s unreal.”

    Style over substance? Even if that’s the case it will take you a long way in this game. Obama is the young Jack Kennedy circa 1956 in 2008. He talks a good game allright. I stood next to people of various ages and ethnicities during the 2004 Convention speech, watching them go from jumping up and down applauding to dabbing at tears in the span of about 3 minutes, and back again. He’s got the platitudes down cold, as well as the inflections to deliver them. Who really cares about his voting record in the Senate? Not the vast majority of the electorate I can assure you, who have a much greater capacity for celebrity gossip than such mundane things as whether he supports working people or sides with the transnationals.

    I’m old enough to remember when real integration started to take place…about 35 years ago. I recall the first time I watched a cartoon like Charlie Brown on TV and noticed one of the kids was black…or should I say supposed to be black…looked just like the other kids except with a little color (and even danced just like the other kids, lol). And when they came out with the first black Barbie dolls…they were apparently from the same old Barbie doll mold…just several shades darker. Hate to say it, but that’s where we are 35 years later with Obama. It seems that things move slooooow on the ole presidential political scene.

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