Kaine Going to Iowa to Promote Obama in '08; Says He Admires Senator for His Unifying Qualities

Article excerpt

Byline: Seth McLaughlin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine will travel through Iowa this weekend to gather support for Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat whom he endorsed for president nearly 10 months ago.

"I think Obama in word and in deed is really a unifier," Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, told The Washington Times yesterday. "I think the nation is very, very polarized right now and we need someone with those qualities."

He will make the trip about seven weeks before the Iowa caucus, the first primary in U.S. presidential races that historically can make or break a candidate's run.

Support from Virginia has become more valuable to Democrats in national races as the state continues to elect more Democrats, including Mr. Kaine in 2005, Gov. Mark Warner in 2001 and Sen. Jim Webb last year, whose victory gave Democrats control of the Senate.

Gordon Fischer, former Iowa Democratic Party chairman and Obama supporter, told The Times that Virginia could be competitive in the November 2008 elections after backing a Republican in every presidential election since 1964.

More important, he said, independent-minded Iowa voters will embrace the moderate message that helped Mr. Kaine in 2005, Mr. Warner in 2001 and Mr. Webb.

An Obama staffer said Mr. Kaine will discuss why their candidate is the best suited "to move our country past red-state and blue-state divides and unite us on the values we share." He also said Mr. Obama's crossover appeal has won the support of 368 Iowa Republicans.

But Dennis J. Goldford, political science professor at Drake University in Iowa, warned that people should not read too much into Mr. Kaine's visit. He called it "a nice little perk," but not "a game-breaker or deal-breaker" for Mr. Obama.

"I think we are talking at the margins here," he said. …