Republican Senate candidate George Allen on Thursday welcomed to the Virginia campaign trail Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, whose endorsement Allen is hoping will help energize his own political comeback attempt.
"What we need is a leader in Washington, D.C., in both the Senate and in the White House, that understands the fundamental facts about how the economy grows and prospers," Rubio said. "If we don't change leadership, we can't change track."
Rubio, one of the party's rising stars and a potential vice presidential contender, is the second member of the Senate's current freshman class, a group propelled into office in 2010, on a Tea Party-fueled wave of fiscal conservatism, to make an appearance for Allen.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., another Tea Party favorite, stumped for Allen earlier this year in Richmond, and other outside congressmen have made similar forays into Virginia, a state Rubio described as being "at the very top" of the Republican Party's list of targets for the November elections.
"The strategic importance of this state cannot be underestimated," Rubio said with Allen at a small business in Arlington. "Virginia is a bellwether for the country."
While Allen has a number of prominent congressional Republicans crossing the Potomac to stand with him, his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, is relying more on Virginia Democrats, especially Sen. Mark Warner.
Kaine has not tried to distance himself from President Obama, for whom he served as Democratic National Committee chairman, but he has made clear that he won't be in lock step with his own party on Capitol Hill, promising to work in a more bipartisan manner.
"One of the things I pledge to Virginia voters: I don't care whether the gang is 14, six, or one and a half, if there is a gang in the Senate working across the aisle, I'm going to be a part of it," Kaine said Thursday on WTOP. "I'm going to be a part of it, just as I have been in local and state office, always part of bipartisan initiatives."
Both national parties have pledged to spend heavily in Virginia on behalf of Kaine and Allen.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee committed $4.1 million to the race. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reserved $7.5 million in air time this fall.