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Transcript: Gov. Kaine on 'FOX News Sunday'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published October 26, 2008 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the Oct. 26, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: We're joined now by a top official from one of the most important battleground states, Democratic governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, who comes to us from his state capital of Richmond.
As we mentioned at the top of the show, we had also booked former governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, but his plane has been delayed coming to Washington today, and he's been unable to get here.
Having said that, Governor Kaine, we're delighted to have you, and let's talk about Virginia — 13 electoral votes, hasn't gone for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and yet the latest RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows Obama leading McCain in Virginia by seven points, 52 percent to 45.
Governor, is Obama going to win Virginia?
VIRGINIA GOV. TIM KAINE: Well, Chris, what I tell every group of people I talk to is since we haven't done it in Virginia for 44 years, we have to consider ourselves the underdog no matter what the polls say until election night, and that's the way I look at this race.
But there are three positive signs for Senator Obama right now in Virginia. First is the polling, as you mentioned. I have not seen a poll, internal or external, since about the 3rd of October that had Senator McCain ahead. So there's been a consistency — although the margins of these polls all vary, there's been a consistency.
Second, very strong organization — Senator Obama has more offices open, more volunteers, more effort on registering voters, significantly out-advertising Senator McCain. So on the organization, kind of ground game side, we're strong.
And then the last piece which I think is really important in the closing days of a campaign is the intangible energy gap. I just see an energy and enthusiasm for Senator Obama in Virginia, and I'm not seeing the equivalent energy on the McCain side.
So those are three very positive trends, but you know, we realize we haven't done this for a very long time in Virginia, so we're going to consider ourselves the underdogs until we finally break the string.
WALLACE: Let's put up some of those numbers that you just mentioned, because they show what Obama's got going for him and what McCain is up against.
Registration — it has increased more than 400,000 just this year in Virginia, and mostly in Democratic areas.
Field organization — in Virginia, Obama has 51 offices and McCain 19.
Governor Kaine, some people have said it's almost as if Obama is running for governor of Virginia, that he has that kind of a ground organization.
KAINE: He definitely has a lot more offices than I did when I ran for governor in 2005. And I think he's realized that presence matters.
The Obama campaign has wisely decided that, you know, of the various ways to spend money, the best way to spend money is on people and presence in the communities of Virginia. So he's not taking any part of this state for granted.
And again, at the end of the campaign, that kind of person-to-person contact — the canvassing, the phone calling, the intense focus on getting everybody to vote who can — absentee voting, for example — it's really important.
And one of the things that's interesting, Chris, I think many people look at Senator Obama and they think the story is what a great inspirational guy he is. I think the real story is what a great organizational candidate he is, and I think that is going to help him enormously here and elsewhere.
WALLACE: If Obama does win Virginia, let's talk about the stakes. What do you think that does for his chances of being elected president?
KAINE: Well, Chris, you know, I'm going to knock on wood as I say this. I think that Senator Obama can be president without Virginia. There are paths that he can get there. But I do not see how Senator McCain can be president without Virginia.
As you know, we're east coast time, so Virginia may be one of those east coast states to report early. Polls close at 7:00. Within an hour or hour and a half, we'll know basically how Virginia is going.
There are three states in Eastern Time that could potentially flip from a Bush state in '04 to Obama that would be huge and meaningful — Virginia, North Carolina, Florida — also Indiana, I guess, because they don't have Daylight Savings Time.
But Virginia we'll probably know pretty early. And I think if Virginia goes for Senator Obama, I just do not see how the math can work out for Senator McCain. So I'm telling everybody in my state, you don't need to read all those 150 polls that come out that tell us how Nevada or Colorado or Pennsylvania are looking.
Let's just do the job here in Virginia. And if we can do the job here, we can have some confidence that our candidate will be president.
WALLACE: Game over.
KAINE: Well, you know, you don't say that, because, boy, there's — you know, the world and everything will always throw surprises at you.
But if it happens in Virginia, I just think the path to 270 for Senator McCain is almost impossible. And so that's why we're focusing hard.
I've done a lot of traveling for Senator Obama as his national co-chair, but almost all my traveling was during the primary season.
Since he became the putative nominee, you know, I pretty much just planted my feet here, because Virginia, you know, uncharacteristically, given our past history — but we have become a battleground state based on some recent elections, and the senator has wisely recognized that an investment here could pay off big.
WALLACE: Governor Kaine, Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, made a remarkable statement last Sunday. Let's listen to it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BIDEN: We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here. If you don't remember anything else I said, watch, we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, here is his own running mate saying, "Elect Obama and expect an international crisis."
KAINE: Well, listen. If you ran that clip a little bit longer, what you would hear Senator Biden say is, "This is a guy who's got steel in his spine and he's up to the challenge."
I think the comment was pretty much what most Americans, frankly, understand, which is the world is going to throw a lot of challenges at whoever the next president is.
With two wars, significant challenges in energy and food prices, and economic challenge here at home, there are going to be major tests on inauguration day. I think this will be the most challenging inauguration day since FDR was inaugurated in March of 1933.
The issue, then, is if we know the next president will face challenges, let's make sure we put the right person in. And I go back to...
WALLACE: But, Governor...
KAINE: ... what General Powell said last week. You've got to pick somebody with very, very steady and sober judgment who has good people around him and can negotiate through very difficult times...
WALLACE: But, Governor, respectfully...
KAINE: ... and I think Senator Obama has demonstrated he is.
WALLACE: Governor, I know — I know that that's been the Obama camp spin — "Oh, well, he was saying any president — any new president will be tested." But that isn't what Biden said.
I mean, if you listen to it — and you're quite right, he did say that Obama has a spine of steel, but he also said, "Here's a 47-year- old guy and they're going to want to —" and I've got the quote, "that if you don't remember anything else I said, we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy," not the new president, this guy.
KAINE: Well, and that — you know, and that is, Chris, what all Americans are wrestling with as they make their choices for president. They want to have somebody who's got the right judgment to steer our economy back in a positive direction and deal with these international challenges.
And again, as General Powell said last week, on both the steadiness in dealing with these economic challenges and the capacity, really, to be a great leader on the world stage — I think Senator Obama has demonstrated to the American people that he's ready to take on that mantle at a very difficult time.
WALLACE: Last week, Democratic congressman Jack Murtha said Obama faces a special problem in his part of Pennsylvania. He said that a lot of people there are racist. Now, he later apologized and said he didn't mean everybody, but that some people would have problems voting for a black man for president.
Question: Is race the hidden factor and the X factor, if you will, that remains in this election?
KAINE: Chris, you know, I am not naive enough to say that race is a non-factor. It is a factor out there. I just think it's a very minor factor.
You know, Virginia, as you know, was the first state to elect an African American governor in 1989, the great election of my friend, current Richmond mayor Doug Wilder.
And we talked about it at length 20 years ago, and at the end of the day Virginians put their weight behind Doug Wilder, and I think that those who would decide solely or primarily based on race are such a tiny portion that I don't really view it as a big issue.
And frankly, what I see as I'm out there all around Virginia is folks kind of grappling with this. African Americans in this country have voted not just year after year, but decade after decade, for white candidates who are the right candidates to represent them. They've done it with enthusiasm and loyalty.
I just can't believe that white Americans at this date, 2008, don't have that same sense of equanimity and ability to pick the right person regardless of what their skin color are. So there may be a few out there, but thank goodness they're so much scarcer than they were 10 or even 20 years ago.
WALLACE: Governor, we've got less than two minutes left. I want to ask — get into one final area with you. McCain is also...
WALLACE: ... hitting Obama for his comments to Joe the Plumber about — that he wants to spread the wealth around. We obviously have a progressive tax system. People that are better off pay a higher percentage of their taxes than people that are less well off.
But is that what taxes are for, to take money from people who are well off and to just give it to people who are less well off? I thought it was to pay for government services, not to spread the wealth around.
KAINE: Indeed. But I mean, I think the — you know, the way I looked at that is why wouldn't we want to spread opportunities to succeed around. I mean, that's kind of the American way.
And the way I look at it is the sharp differentiation between these two candidates' economic policies are Senator McCain says, "Economic success is how the wealthiest and the biggest businesses are doing. That's why my tax policies help them."
Senator Obama says, "No, economic success is how the middle class and small businesses are doing." And so small businesses like Joe the Plumber's — my dad ran an iron-working shop. They're going to get no capital gains for small businesses and start-up businesses, health care tax credit for small businesses who buy health insurance for their employees, and since most small businesses make net income of less than $250,000, they're going to get a tax break on the individual income tax plan that Senator Obama has.
I don't view that as redistributionist. I just view it as both sides have a bull's eye that they're painting as to who they want to help to juice this economy and expand opportunity, and Senator Obama's is the middle class and small businesses.
WALLACE: Governor Kaine, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for joining us today.
KAINE: Absolutely, Chris.
WALLACE: And we'll see how the world turns in nine days, sir.
KAINE: Look forward to being back with you.
Sunday--Chris sits down with House Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH).
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