Democratic governor plans to show both parties a "better way" in Bush response |

Democratic governor plans to show both parties a "better way" in Bush response

ARLINGTON, Va. – Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, tapped to deliver the State of the Union response for Democrats, has sharp words for both parties in Washington: Stop being so partisan, negative and irrelevant. “There’s a better way,” he said Monday.Less than three weeks after taking office, Kaine is a rising star inside his party because he succeeded last November where many other Democrats have failed – in a Southern state and in the fast-growing exurbs.”I want to contrast what I consider to be an administration that is super partisan and not really able to deliver results with a different model, a better way, which is what we’ve been doing in Virginia and other states,” Kaine said, previewing his Tuesday night speech in an interview with The Associated Press.”Results matter. Planning matters. Management matters, and you can make much more progress if you do it in a bipartisan way,” he said.That was a dig at the president, but Kaine said Democrats in Washington also could learn from the success achieved by him and 11 other Democratic governors who run states that Bush carried in 2004.”I think we have to be much more about an optimistic and positive message,” Kaine said of his fellow Democrats, an assessment that will not be part of Tuesday night’s speech. “I think sometimes we perfect the criticism without a positive, forward-looking message.””I think it’s all about talking to people about the issues that really matter to them, which is what successful governors tend to do. They became successful in campaigns because they talk about real basic things and don’t get off on insider issues and purely social causes – the strength of the economy, the power of education, health care needs and health care solutions,” Kaine said.He ran as a moderate and promised better roads and tools to curb urban sprawl.While his popular predecessor, Mark Warner, is a Democrat, too, Virginia is a Republican-leaning state that hasn’t backed a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Bush won the state by about 8 percentage points in 2000 and 9 points in 2004.What really caught the attention of Democratic Party leaders was Kaine’s performance in exurban communities, the sprawling new suburbs filled with big-box stores and Republican-leaning families. Kaine defeated Republican Jerry Kilgore in Loudoun and Prince William counties outside Washington, both of which Bush won in 2004. Kaine fared better than 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in five other fast-growing Virginia counties won by Bush.Kaine, the son-in-law of Virginia’s first modern Republican governor, won despite his opposition to the death penalty in a state that has executed 94 inmates since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, second only to Texas’s 356.Republican Kilgore tried to play a law-and-order card when he ran an ad that said Kaine’s opposition to the death penalty meant he would not have executed Adolf Hitler. Kaine pledged to enforce the death penalty despite his personal opposition, using Kilgore’s attack to shine a spotlight on his own faith and values. He is Roman Catholic.”I’m not apologizing for my religious beliefs to anybody,” Kaine said throughout the campaign.His first ad aired on a Christian radio station. The first TV ad he ran in the fall of 2005 highlighted his experience with Catholic missionaries.Party leaders said Kaine’s victory illustrated how candidates can share voters’ values without abandoning party principles.”Tim Kaine is a wonderful fresh face who speaks from the heart about his values,” said Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean.But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said it’s Republicans who should take a lesson from the Virginian. “He is someone who embodies the leadership and accountability that’s missing in Republican Washington,” Reid said.Kaine’s speech, which advisers say will take less than 10 minutes, follows an address by Bush that also will include a call for bipartisanship. The president said Monday he will ask Congress to help him “elevate the tone here in Washington, D.C.”Kaine said he appreciates the assignment from Reid and other party leaders, even as he distances himself from Washington.”I’m no shill or mouthpiece or posterboy for anybody,” he said. “I’m going to do it in a way that I think it should be done.”Kaine said he has gotten plenty of advice from Washington. Some has been good. As for the rest: “I said, ‘No, thanks. I think I’ll take it in another direction.”‘Vail, Colorado

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