Virginia’s U.S. Senator Mark Warner and former governor and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Tim Kaine took a whirlwind tour of Virginia last week. Warner was backing Kaine as he promoted innovation and education as a means to shape U.S. economic competitiveness.
While in Roanoke Kaine toured the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute and held a roundtable discussion with Warner that included leadership and researchers and innovative companies that have located or formed in Roanoke because of VTC.
Kaine as governor in 2008 took credit for the higher education bond package that made record investment in higher education facilities at Virginia’s public universities and community colleges. Kaine, if elected vowed that he would work to increase the accessibility and affordability of higher education as part of building a national talent economy.
“[VTC] is like exhibit A of my economic plan,” said Kaine. “It combines growth, it combines talent and it combines balance.” Kaine praised Warner’s leadership in the “gang of six” balancing spending cuts with spending priorities. “You can’t close [the deficit] just with cuts. If you just cut you will hurt important priorities like research and education and infrastructure. You have to make investments as well.”
Having the education that produces researchers like those at VTC is Kaine’s priority. “We’re slipping in the talent race nationally,” said Kaine. “To get back to number one we have to be willing to invest.”
Kaine supports letting the Bush tax cuts expire and taking tax incentives away from companies like Exxon Mobil. “They don’t need a taxpayer handout to do well.” Giving money away is no way to reduce the deficit, explained Kaine.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said that Tim Kaine would have a hard time explaining that as governor he raised taxes, tried to send double murderer Jens Soering back to Germany and called a failed transportation special session. Kaine responded saying “Cuccinelli is an attacker – I am a builder promoter and a doer – he can attack all he wants. I’m not worried about it.”
No visit to Roanoke is complete without a trip to the iconic Roanoke Weiner Stand. But before the entourage slipped out of the building there was an opportunity to confront Senator Warner on the report that he was seriously considering running for governor again in 2013. Both Terry McAuliffe and Fairfax Senator Chap Petersen are waiting for Warner’s decision before announcing a run for the Democratic nomination.
A cornered Warner was evasive but never responded “no” when repeatedly pressed. With a big Cheshire cat grin Warner said, “The most important thing I can do right now is work on this deficit reduction bill. We’ve got a train wreck coming at the end of the year with the expiration of the tax cuts … the best value I can add … (He is interrupted asking for a yes or no answer but Warner ignores the question and continues) “I would like nothing more than to say that we got our country’s budget fixed in 2012.” Another attempt for a direct answer was futile.
Meanwhile the Democrats are in a holding pattern while the Republicans are lining up candidates. AG Cuccinelli and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling are already fundraising and campaigning.