With a new poll showing that he still leads Virginia's marquee U.S. Senate race, Democrat Tim Kaine moved to close out his campaign Wednesday with a parting message about the need for bipartisanship in Washington.
Having spent months attacking Republican opponent George Allen on everything from women's reproductive rights to Medicare, Kaine will go back to portraying himself as a bridge builder and consensus seeker with a pair of new ads that will air until Tuesday's election.
(View the ads at the bottom of this story)
"Washington needs to start living the values we teach our children," Kaine says.
The Kaine campaign is cautiously optimistic that it enters the final week with a small but steady lead over Allen. A CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Kaine pulling in 50 percent of the vote to Allen's 46 percent, though that lead is down from the 7-percentage-point advantage Kaine had in early October.
Allen will continue to run ads that criticize Kaine for initially embracing a congressional debt ceiling deal that now threatens to impose $1 trillion in federal budget cuts, including a $500 million reduction in defense spending.
Allen's continuing attacks with less than a week left in the campaign are a good sign for the Democrats, Kaine senior adviser Mo Elleithee said.
"What we've started to see is that the momentum here in the final days of the campaign seems to be breaking our way," Elleithee said. "I would much rather be where we are than where the Allen campaign is today."
But Allen advisers are betting that his continued focus on pending defense cuts that could devastate Virginia's economy will prompt voters, particularly in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, two regions that rely heavily on Pentagon spending. The campaign also is running ads attacking Kaine's energy proposals in a bid to win over voters in southwest Virginia whose livelihoods depend on coal.
In an appeal to moderate independents, Allen continued to rap Kaine a partisan tied to President Obama. During a campaign stop in Springfield on Wednesday, Allen called Kaine "Obama's senator" and played up his own bipartisan accomplishments.
Video from Allen's event:
The Quinnipiac poll shows Allen leading Kaine 56 percent to 38 percent among independents, a point his campaign says indicates Allen will prevail.
"[Voters] do want to see change in Washington," Allen said. "I think they'll judge this race on who has the best record out of the two of us of working across party lines to get jobs created."