- Last Updated on 11:53 AM 04/23/12
- BY Danielle Vaughn
Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine brought his campaign to South Boston Saturday afternoon outlining his plans to voters at a meet and greet held at Italian Delight Restaurant in South Boston.
He was accompanied by Brig. General John Douglass, a Democrat candidate for the 5th District congressional seat currently held by Rep. Robert Hurt, and Del. Ward Armstrong of Martinsville, each presenting his ideas of what direction the federal government should go.
Kaine, former governor of Virginia, is expected to face Republican candidate George Allen for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Jim Webb who is not seeking reelection.
Kaine told voters he wants to specialize in talent. He said the more talent America has, the more successful it will be.
Virginia moved from being one of the poorest states in 1950 to being one the top 10 in median income because they decided talent was important, Kaine said.
“The more we focus on the skill level of our population, the better we do,” he added.
Kaine noted how America once was number one in the world and is now number 16 in the percentage of young people who are getting
college degrees. And if things don’t change in a few years, America will be number 28 leaving fewer opportunities for young people in the future, he said.
The candidate expressed his concern over military and veteran affairs telling those in attendance one of his sons will be entering the Marines as a lieutenant.
Talent would make the economy stronger, give younger people more opportunities and maintain a commitment to those who serve the country, Kaine said.
He explained his opponent already has spent millions of dollars in negative TV ads about him. He told his supporters he believed Virginians and Americans are upbeat and optimistic “can do” people, adding he plans to take a positive approach with his campaign.
“Democrats run on who we are, what our hopes are and what we want to do,” Kaine said.
When he was serving as governor, Kaine said he was pleased with the kind of press that Virginia received, but now Virginia is not making the right kind of headlines in his opinion.
Ward Armstrong agreed saying, “What’s going on in Richmond is borderline embarrassing.”
When Kaine opened the floor for questions, one person asked his position on educational budget cuts.
Kaine said as cuts are made, education should be made more robust.
He explained Virginia has some of the best test scores in the country.
He noted education and infrastructure are important investments saying nobody made the way by making cuts.
He explained the purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act saying it was to make sure every child had the same education no matter their address.
However, the Standards of Learning only test for the minimum competence level, he added.
“In today’s world minimum competence isn’t enough, its about excellence,” he said. “We should expose our younger people to more opportunities and find out what they’re good at and help them succeed.”
When asked about his campaign budget, Kaine said he planned to raise as much as he could, and he added he had a long way to go before reaching his goal.
He said he raised $5 million between April and the end of last year but estimated he would need over $13 million to be successful.
Kaine blamed former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts enforced back in 2001 and 2003 for causing a huge deficit in the federal budget.
The government should have let the tax cuts expire, according to Kaine, and they should take subsidies away from the oil and gas companies since these companies already are successful and don’t need taxpayers giving them money.
“We shouldn’t be giving tax benefits to corporate businesses who make it more advantageous to work overseas,” he added.
When asked about his stance on President Obama’s Health care plan, Kaine said 20 million seniors have received free preventive health care under the new plan, and the plan has made it possible for younger people who wouldn’t have insurance otherwise to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26.
Kaine also answered a question about rising gas prices.
America is producing more energy than ever before, and “we produce 80 percent of the energy we are using.”
He said America is a net exporter of fine petroleum, so he doesn’t understand why prices are going up if America is producing so much energy.
Brig. General John Douglass who joined Kaine during the meet and greet Saturday afternoon also told of his journey from being a homeless 16 year old to being a number two general in NATO.
Douglass said women play a vital role in serving America and that their rights shouldn’t be taken away from them.
“The people in Richmond telling women what to do with their bodies is crazy as hell,” Douglass said.
He said America looks to women to fill the gap left open by a decrease in the amount of men eligible to enlist in the military.
Douglass said he is grateful to all the young women and men who are guarding this country and argued they should be brought home from Afghanistan.
He said, “You don’t defend a country by bombing everything. You defend it by being a greater shining example of what we can be for our people at home.”
Douglass said education and fairness are key issues as well.
“We should stand up and tell Republicans if they don’t start funding our schools, we’re going to throw them out of office,” Douglass said.
Douglass would like to serve on the education committee if he is elected to congress.
He also feels Americans should learn how to use natural gas and oil and rely on American-made petroleum as well as being eco-friendly.
“If we don’t take care of our environment, what are we going to pass on to our children?” Douglass asked.
Douglass said he supports the president except for one thing – he believes the troops should be brought home sooner than 2014.