CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine offered a full-throated defense of President Obama on Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention, tying his political fortunes to an incumbent president who faces major headwinds in the battleground state.
Kaine is embracing Obama despite Virginia Republicans' attempts to undercut Kaine by painting the former governor as a cheerleader for the White House and what the GOP sees as its failed policies.
"While we've made progress, we still have a long way to go," Kaine told thousands of convention delegates who packed the hall on the three-day event's opening night. "We'll only get there if we elect leaders who put results ahead of ideology. I support President Obama because he's that kind of leader."
Kaine, one of the first Democrats to endorse Obama's presidential bid in 2008, again embraced the president at a time when other down-ballot Democrats facing tough elections this November are keeping their distance from Obama and the convention.
Kaine was Obama's Democratic National Committee chairman, and his close ties to the president have become an issue in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.
Kaine's Republican rival, George Allen, has been telling Virginians that a vote for Kaine is a vote for a continuation of Obama's failed economic policies, including an $800 billion economic stimulus.
Even as he was endorsing Obama, Kaine tried to differentiate Virginia Democrats from their national counterparts, calling state leaders pragmatists who are willing to work across the aisle in tough times.
"How did Virginia go from red to purple?" Kaine asked. "We did it with grassroots excitement and hard work. And we showed Virginians that Democrats get results."
Turning to Republicans, Kaine added, "The GOP pushed ideology and wedge issues. Last week, they passed a platform demanding privacy for super-PACs and denying privacy to women making health care decisions."
Allen didn't speak at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., last week, choosing instead to hit the campaign trail in a race that polls consistently show is a dead heat.
Allen's campaign derided Kaine's convention role as evidence that his loyalties lie somewhere other than Virginia.
"Tim Kaine is right at home with Democrat Party loyalists praising him for championing President Obama's failed tax, borrow-and-spend agenda, while leaving Virginians behind," said Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis. "As governor, Tim Kaine chose to chair the Democratic National Committee instead of focusing his sole attention on Virginians struggling to find jobs, afford college and make ends meet."