Kaine Campaign Tries To Spotlight Allen-Ryan Link

For nearly a year and a half, Virginia Republicans have attempted to tie President Obama around the neck of U.S. Senate hopeful Tim Kaine in hopes of dragging down the Democratic ticket in this potentially pivotal battleground state. But after Mitt Romney went to Norfolk on Saturday to announce his running mate, Democrats say they have been handed a corresponding target of opportunity in the person of Paul Ryan.

The logic of the GOP strategy of using Obama to undermine Kaine has always depended on a leap of faith for which there was little empirical evidence: Obama carried the Old Dominion by seven percentage points in 2008 and is still relatively popular there. Likewise, the Democratic Party’s emerging strategy of demonizing Rep. Ryan simply assumes that Virginia voters know who he is and are hostile to his idea of reining in federal entitlement spending.

Allen’s main strategy during this campaign has been to nationalize the race and pin his opponent, a former governor but also a former Democratic National Committee chairman, to health care reform, the stimulus package, and the president’s energy policy.

Unlike Kaine, Allen had to first beat back challengers in his party for the Senate nomination, and was cautious about fully embracing Romney and taking a position on the Ryan budget. “George Allen is understandably hesitant and wants to run on his own brand,” says Ford O’Connell, a Virginia-based Republican strategist, noting that seniors constitute 12 percent of Virginia’s population.

In a race expected to remain neck-and-neck until November, given the strong brands both Allen and Kaine have in the state, “literally both candidates are fighting over inches in the commonwealth,” says O’Connell. “In a lot of ways, the next 30 days could really define the race. And the question is whether Romney and Ryan can beat back the ‘Medi-scare’ tactics. If they can, Allen will be in great shape.”

Read more from Caitlin Huey-Burns at RealClearPolitics

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published this page in In The News 2012-08-14 19:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy