CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hours ahead of his moment in the national spotlight, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Timothy M. Kaine spoke this morning to Virginia’s delegation here, invigorating the crowd on the first day of the convention.
Kaine, a former governor and Democratic National Committee chairman who will speak this evening, began by stressing the battleground state’s significance.
“We matter,” he said. “The president really believes — and I’ve heard him say — Virginia is a check-mate state.”
Kaine spent a good chunk of his time discussing the changes in election law since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened the door for outside groups to funnel unlimited cash into federal elections — much of it anonymously.
Kaine sought to enliven the group’s grassroots spirit by suggesting that GOP groups were attempting to buy the elections, saying that the election law changes have created a “secret money system.”
Noting that about $10 million in negative TV ads have been used against him since late last year, Kaine said, “I’m proud to tell you, it has not moved the polling one bit.”
Kaine is locked in an extremely close race with fellow former governor George Allen. While Kaine has consistently outraised Allen, numerous outside groups have attacked on Allen’s behalf, most notably Crossroads GPS, American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s shame in being associated with a lie, but only if you can be associated with a lie,” Kaine said of the fact that many donors to outside groups remain anonymous.
“There really is a group of people…who do believe that you’re irrelevant,” he said to the many volunteers in attendance.
Kaine said his speech tonight would focus on the story of how Virginia went from red to purple in 2008, when for the first time since 1964 a Democratic presidential candidate carried the state.
The Virginia delegation was also pleasantly surprised when the Rev. Jesse Jackson sauntered into the breakfast meeting.
Jackson spoke of new voter ID laws passed this year in many states, including Virginia, the most extreme of which, he said, were an obvious effort to disenfranchise minorities and other left-leaning voters.
“There’s an attempt to steal the election by negation,” he said, calling the measures “abhorrent to our Democracy.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-SC, and Democratic political strategist and commentator Donna Brazile also spoke at the meeting.
Like Jackson and Kaine, both touted the president’s accomplishments, unequivocally answering in the affirmative the question of whether Americans are better off today than they were four years ago, which has dominated news coverage in recent days.
“I know Republicans want us to answer their questions like they want us to fix their problems,” she said. “We’re not the best we can possible be, but we are better off, ladies and gentlemen.”
Clyburn asked the crowd to think of the economy as a patient taken to the emergency room in 2008.
“Our president took office in January 2009. His first order of business was not to order a remedy; his order of business was to stop the hemorrhaging, and we did stop the hemorrhaging,” he said.