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Analysis: Kaine's Election Prospects Still Tied To Obama's

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President Obama is promoting his plan this week to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to households making less than $250,000 a year. He says those making more than $250,000 a year should see those tax cuts expire. He'll be pushing that proposal during a two-day tour through Virginia at the end of the week, but it's drawing some contrast between some Democrats in the commonwealth. Former Virginia governor Tim Kaine, who is running for Senate, says he thinks tax cuts should be extended for those making less than $500,000 a year.

Reid Wilson, editor-in-chief of The National Journal Hotline, talks with WAMU 88.5 Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey to explain why it's a notable distinction for the former Democratic National Committee chairman to make.

On what's behind Tim Kaine's decision to draw this contrast with the President:

"Remember that $250,000, while it may be worth a lot to some folks, but to those voters say in the Northern Virginia suburbs, it's not that much money. $250,000 is approaching a reasonable household income in an area that is expensive to live in. What may be a lot of money in southwest Virginia does not have the same buying power in Northern Virginia. So Tim Kaine is sort of playing a bit of constituent politics here. He's got to appeal to the voters in the Washington D.C. suburbs, who are going to be making a bit more money, and who would be hit by not extending tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year."

On whether the distinctions between Obama and Virginia Democrats could be a liability:

"I don't believe a lot of voters are going to make their voting decision based on one tax proposal made in July that isn't even going to pass the U.S. Congress before election day. I'm not sure one specific proposal is going to move a lot of votes one way or another."

On the balance Kaine is striking on his closeness to President Obama:

"It would strain credulity for Kaine to try to distance himself from the President. Of course, Tim Kaine actually benefits from President Obama being on the ballot. The increased turnout in a presidential year is good for Democratic candidates. And by the way, the amount of increase the President Obama was able to make create in Virginia was key for Democrats across the state. In 2006, when Jim Webb won the election, just 21 percent of the Virginia electorate was non-white, a group that votes overwhelmingly for Democrats. In 2008, when President Obama was running, that number shot up to 30 percent — a 9 percent increase in just two years is unheard of."

On George Allen's treatment of Kaine and Obama's relationship:

"Obama is either going to win or lose the state by two points — it's going to be a very close contest. If he ends up losing the state by two points, obviously, he becomes more of a liability for Tim Kaine. George Allen is going to try to drive that connection between Tim Kaine and President Obama."


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