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POLITICS

Virginia Republicans target Kaine, Senate race

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Politics,Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- On the last day of the Republican National Convention -- a day that's supposed to belong to presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- Virginia delegates were reminded that the battle for control of Washington extends beyond the top of the ticket and Democratic opponents named Barack Obama.

Democrat Tim Kaine, a U.S. Senate candidate in Virginia, drew a lot of the attention at Thursday's breakfast meeting of Republican delegates. It was one of the first times his name was mentioned publicly during the convention week, but there was much to say.

"He's got some ads out there where he says he can bring people together. And I guess that's true," said Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va. "Tim Kaine is the only governor I served with in the 17 years I served [in the House of Delegates] who was able to bring Democrats, Republicans and independents together to say, 'No' to his bill."

Later, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who emceed the convention and visited some state delegations with Gov. Bob McDonnell, ripped into Kaine, who while governor "suggested that you could close the [state] deficit by raising taxes. ... Gov. McDonnell showed, 'You know what you don't have to raise taxes.'... And he ended up with a surplus."

Kaine is in a tight race with Republican George Allen, a former governor and U.S. Senator who chose to skip the Tampa convention to campaign. They are jockeying to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb in a fight that could determine which party controls the upper chamber.

While Republican speakers have frequently touted Allen's record during their daily meeetings, they saved much of their scorn for Obama rather than Kaine.

Kaine's campaign scoffed at the criticism they received Thursday.

"Rather than partisan posturing, Tim Kaine is focused on the plan he's laid out to create jobs, grow our economy, and avoid harmful sequestration cuts," Kaine spokeswoman Lily Adams said.

There were plenty of nasty words saved for Obama as well. Griffith and McMorris Rodgers were sharp with their criticism of the current administration, while Josh Romney, the second Romney child to address the delegation this week, admonished the president for attacking his father.

"It's ironic to me that the president is somehow trying to say that my dad's success and business career somehow disqualifies him from being president," Josh Romney said. "Would you rather have a businessman that failed at everything he did and ended up poor?"

"The president continues to baffle me," he added.

The middle Romney son was the last big name to address the delegation during a week that included stops from Olympians, actor Jon Voight and House Speaker John Boehner. At the beginning of the week there was some buzz that Virginia, a critical battleground state, could attract some of the convention's main attractions, like Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, or maybe even Ann Romney or vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Instead, Virginia will be the first stop on the Romney-Ryan post-convention tour, which begins Friday in Richmond.

"Virginia, make sure you win on Nov. 6," McMorris Rodgers said. "We're counting on this."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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