While it was reported this week that George Allen took in $1.1 million during the second quarter from supporters of his Senate bid, his likely opponent opined on the amount it will take to get to the finish line: $15 million to $20 million.
"I think the race for Senate in Virginia will cost that much, just in terms with what I have to raise," said former Gov. Tim Kaine, who made the remarks this week before a group of rising high school seniors, on C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’ program at the Arlington campus of George Mason University School of Law.
In addition to speculating on the amount needed for his campaign, in response to a question from C-SPAN host Steve Scully, Kaine also discussed the following:
His Relationship with President Obama
Kaine struck up a friendship when then-Senator Obama, who came to Arlington while Kaine was campaigning for governor, Kaine said. “…we both went to Harvard Law, we both spent formative time in the Third World, we were both civil rights lawyers. And both of our mothers are from El Dorado, Kansas. When we realized that both of our mothers’ families were from that part of the world, we struck up a friendship.”
“If you are in politics, you have to assume everything you say is on the public record,” Kaine said. “People can tweet what you say.” He recalled how a conversation with students in a class he teaches in Richmond became public.
“I was trying to decide whether to run for the Senate or not,” he said. “I was teaching on a Monday morning, and my students asked me [about it]. I told them I was leaning toward it. They tweeted it to the school newspaper.”
Social media “is very powerful,” he said. “It’s a superb technique to give a grassroots feel to politics….social media can connect and inform people about events. We’re seeing a change in how journalists cover campaigns."
No 'No Tax' Pledges
In addition to students’ questions, Kaine also took questions from viewers. A caller from Birmingham, Ala., wanted to know if Kaine would take a pledge not to raise taxes, as some Republicans do.
“My position was always, I take one oath, that you...protect the Constitution of Virginia and of the United States. You shouldn’t be taking other pledges. It ties people’s hands.”
The question led to a discussion about the nation’s deficit. “There is no way to save this deficit plan without making significant cuts,” Kaine said. “You can’t solve it with just cuts, you have to find new revenues… let Bush tax cuts expire, grow the economy.”
“Raising the debt ceiling isn’t about issuing new debt, it’s about honoring [our] obligations,” he said. “We shouldn’t walk away from our obligations.”
Why He's Running
A student from New Rochelle, N.Y. asked Kaine why he wants to run for the Senate. Kaine told the audience that he had thought that running for the office of governor would be his last race. He took the job of running the Democratic National Committee when President Obama asked him to take it. “When he asks, you say ‘yes,’ “ he said. “I was working real hard on his reelection.”
“But earlier this year, [Senator] Jim Webb surprised everybody,” Kaine said. “My wife and I and my children wrestled with this. It wasn’t on our to-do list.”
But with “tough challenges facing the nation,” Kaine said he did not want to “stand on the sidelines. I had to think about it for about a month, and by mid-March, I thought ‘OK, I’ll do this.’ “
His campaign theme, he said, is ‘American Has Challenges, Virginia Has Solutions.’ The lessons he has learned in Virginia, he noted, helping make the state into a “high-income, high-education” state, can be translated to working in the U.S. Senate, he said.
“I want to take some Virginia lessons to Washington."