Tim Kaine speaks to voters during the Democratic rally held at the Bristol Public Library Friday. Photo by David Grace.
BRISTOL, Va. — Virginia Democratic congressional candidates Tim Kaine and Anthony Flaccavento made their closing pitches to voters Friday during a rally at the Bristol Public Library.
Kaine and Flaccavento did a joint campaign appearance with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and state Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Lebanon.
Polls indicate that Kaine, a former governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is deadlocked with Republican George Allen in a race for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jim Webb.
“This Senate race is about the closest one in the United States, and the presidential ballot in Virginia is just about the closest one in the United States,” Kaine told supporters. “The bad news is it puts pressure on us. The good news is your person-to-person effort over the next few days is going to have more of an impact in a close state than it would virtually everywhere else.”
There are up to 150,000 undecided Virginia voters who are “waiting for a positive word from someone they trust,” Kaine said.
Besides President Barack Obama, Kaine said he’s had the biggest number of super political action committee TV ads opposing his campaign.
Kaine said he has known Allen, another former governor who was defeated in his re-election bid six years ago, for a long time.
“The choices are pretty stark,” said Kaine. “George’s view of the economy is about what you cut. ... He was in the Senate, and that’s what he did. When he went in, we were in the biggest boom since World War II, and when he left six years later, we were going into the deepest recession we had in 75 years. On the campaign trail, he’s proposed the same kinds of things that sent us into a mess.”
Kaine and Allen had clashing views on Friday’s October employment report showing an increase of 171,000 jobs and a 7.9 percent unemployment rate.
In an e-mailed release, Allen said: “As Democrats’ national party chairman, Tim Kaine supported the policies that have left us deeper in debt, with a bigger government and over 20 million Americans unemployed or underemployed. ... We can create over 500,000 new jobs a year with a more simple, fair and competitive tax code, reasonable regulations, and unleashed American energy resources and empowering education policies.”
Kaine responded: “With 32 consecutive months of private sector job growth and consumer confidence at a near five-year high, there are encouraging signs that our economy continues to recover from a crippling recession. That recovery is due, in large part, to the strength of our work force and the entrepreneurial spirit of our businesses. ... Congress remains the true impediment to our economic growth.”
At the rally, Kaine also attempted to disprove a perception that he is anti-coal while acting pro-coal in his TV political ads.
“I know there are folks on TV who put up banners and claim I’m not on board when it comes to the future of coal, but they’re wrong,” said Kaine, who was endorsed by the United Mine Workers.
Flaccavento, an Abingdon Democrat, went on offense at the rally against the man he is attempting to unseat — incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith.
“My opponent and the Republican Party have really adopted a certain strategy, and that is whatever the issue is, whatever the challenge or the problem, the first thing is they find somebody to blame,” Flaccavento said. “On the federal deficit, they don’t say a word about the big giveaways to the people at the top, the 1 percent. They won’t talk at all about the $100 billion in lost revenue from the (GOP presidential challenger) Mitt Romneys of the world parking their money in the Cayman Islands or someplace.”
In his remarks, Puckett joked that he played Griffith during Flaccavento’s preparation for debates with Griffith.
“A lot of people don’t think this (Griffith/Flaccavento) race is close, but I tell you, I believe it is,” Puckett said at the rally. “There’s a lot of people across the Ninth (House District) who want someone who really cares about us.”
Warner lamented Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher’s loss to Griffith two years ago.
“I think an awful lot of people in the district are having buyer’s remorse,” Warner said of Griffith. “They remember when they had someone who put the district first.”