A week after the his Oakton campaign office opened, U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) stopped by the Hunter Mill Plaza location to visit with volunteers and kick off canvassing in the area.
On Sunday, the former governor made two stops in Northern Virginia — Manassas and Oakton — to speak to supporters of his campaign to take the congressional seat Sen. Jim Webb (D) is vacating.
"I just want to show support for Obama and Kaine and Connolly. I think their philosophy fits what I believe," said Marian Brobst, a phone bank volunteer from Fairfax City who stopped by the Oakton office Sunday. "They just support the ordinary person well."
She attended the even with her neighbor, Natalia Parmly, who wants to be active for the Democrats this election season because of their pro-choice stances.
"People have to start taking responsibility in these elections. It's sinful that we are proud of a 50 percent voting rate. I think it's horrifying," she said. "I think people who don't vote don't have a right to say anything and people who do vote only have a right to say a little something. By no means do I do hours and hours of work for these campaigns, but I try to chip in a little bit to help out."
Kaine emphasized the importance of grassroots campaigning, pointing to President Barack Obama's success with grassroots efforts in 2008.
"We believe in person-to-person politics. What's at stake this year, and why your actions are important, there's sort of a school of thought on the other side that, frankly, the whole person-to-person politics stuff is passé and irrelevant and you should probably shove it aside," Kaine said. "[T]here's a group of people who think all they gotta do is add zeros to checks that they give to Super PACs and then just run enough negative ads that they can make each one of you pretty much irrelevant."
Kaine provided a status update on the campaign, calling it the closest Senate race in the U.S. He spoke about polls that have shown the two candidates virtually tied since Kaine entered the race in April 2011, then expressed pride in Virginians for ignoring the negative ads from Super PACs that have been running since November. Kaine's campaign started running ads Aug. 23. Last week, Kaine pulled ahead of Allen on several polls for the first time.
"[W]ith all those negative ads and all that money from all those Super PACs, they couldn't move the polls one-tenth of one point," Kaine said. "... [These polls] make me happy about Virginians. What they tell me is that 10 months of negative ads couldn't do something that three weeks of positive ads did."
Ahead of Kaine's campaign stop in Oakton, readers submitted questions for him to answer.
1) What can you do at the federal level to make shopping local more attractive to consumers?
One issue that we do have to face for people, I don't know what her small business is, but a lot of small businesses are an example of the uneven playing field. A lot of small businesses have to collect and remit sale tax on purchases, whereas they're up against online retailers who don't. That's an uneven playing field. That's one of many uneven playing fields in the corporate tax code. Small businesses play federal corporate income tax and GE doesn't pay federal corporate income tax. It's all legal, it's just that the corporate tax structure is very much, "do you have the lobbyists," and small businesses don't have the power to have a lobbyist for them. So, we end up with tax codes that's really skewed. So, trying to fix the tax code so that it's a much more level playing field is something I'm really passionate about.
She owns a clothing shop.
So she's collecting and remitting sales tax. There's a bicycle shop in Richmond that I shop at that I really love. They've been open for more than 100 years, and they closed down this year and I went to talk to them as they were closing. They said one of the reasons they were closing is they had so many times a customer that comes in, "What size frame should I buy?" A salesperson spends time. "What kind of bicycle? Oh yeah, I'll come back. I'm gonna think about it." And they know they just take all the measurements and they just go online and they buy it and they get a better deal and they don't have to pay sales tax on it. That is an inequity we have to solve.
2) How do you expect to get anything done in the Senate with that supermajority nonsense?
There are two filibuster reforms I would support on day one, and I think the Democrats, at least, have acknowledged if they have a majority they will try to make filibuster reforms. You shouldn't be able to filibuster without standing on your feet and doing it because filibuster has an important purpose, but it only works if you're colleagues and the American public can watch you and hold you accountable and say, "You know what? That is a good point." Or, "That person's just a jerk who is trying to gum up the works." So, you ought to have to stand and do it and that would reduce the number of filibusters dramatically. The second thing is I would not allow a filibuster except on a final passage vote. Filibuster now gets used on procedural votes, too. If you just restrict it to final passage and you make somebody stand, I think you will get filibuster back to what it's supposed to be. If you do those two things, then you could see how it worked and if you decide it was still being abused you could think of other reforms, but those are the two.
3) How can you guarantee me 100 percent of your time as my senator when you split your time in your last year as governor running the DNC?
What matters to most people is results. My last year as governor was my best year. All three publications that rank states for business friendliness put Virginia number one out of 50. We did all the economic deals, frankly, most of them right here: Hilton, Rolls Royce, CSC, SEIC, Northrop Grumman announced they were moving here. We got our smoking ban passed. The president asked if I would do the job, just like President Bush asked Governor Gilmore to do the job, which he did, just like George Allen spent two years as chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, just like Governor McDonnell has spent now two years as head of the Republican Governors Association. When Virginians do good things, at the national level people say, "Hey, we would like you to play a leadership role." And it's not a bad thing for Virginia to be recognized as national leaders. So, I told the president when he asked, "Hey look, I'm governor for a year and that is the job that will consume me." He said, "Don't do much your first year. Do what you think you can. Then next year after you're done, give it your full time." So I gave the governorship my all, and you're right, I did some work that year for candidates. But in terms of results, which is what Virginians care about, I think we had a really good year.