Kaine Takes Oath in Williamsburg as 70th Governor; A Rainy Swearing-In Celebrates Virginia's History as Democratic Chief Executive Looks to the Future

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Byline: Christina Bellantoni, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

WILLIAMSBURG - Timothy Michael Kaine was inaugurated yesterday as Virginia's 70th governor before a shivering audience wearing plastic ponchos to ward off winter rainfall that did not dampen the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony.

Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leroy R. Hassell Sr. asked Mr. Kaine to repeat the oath of office as first lady Anne B. Holton held the Bible. The swearing-in was punctuated with 19 shots from Colonial-era cannons.

In a 15-minute speech that covered the state's history, the achievements of today and a view toward tomorrow, Mr. Kaine touched on themes of courage, opportunity and community.

"We will lead boldly and manage wisely. We will protect the liberties endowed by our Creator. We will affirm that family and faith is our bedrock, hard work our way and education our path to progress," said Mr. Kaine, a Democrat. "When we are true to that promise, we will succeed and truly honor the legacy we inherit."

Mr. Kaine, who defeated Republican former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore in November, also congratulated the newly inaugurated Republicans who will serve with him for the next four years - Lt. Gov. William T. Bolling and Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell.

Mild temperatures dropped to frigid by 11 a.m., as raindrops fell on the guests witnessing the swearing-in from bleachers in front of the reconstructed Colonial Capitol. Inaugural staff quickly passed out clear plastic ponchos that women pulled over their fur coats.

"This is a glorious day," said Mr. Kaine, who was not wearing a poncho or coat over his gray morning suit. "The weather is to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously."

The new governor praised a visibly emotional outgoing Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat who leaves the state with a high approval rating he is expected to exploit in a 2008 presidential bid.

The 140 members of the General Assembly - many dressed in ponchos - sat on risers behind Mr. Kaine and former governors Sen. George Allen, James S. Gilmore III, Charles S. Robb and A. Linwood Holton, Mr. Kaine's father-in-law.

Mr. Kaine, 47, said he will focus on providing accountability, strengthening education and easing gridlock.

"I seek the help of all Virginians, regardless of party or region, race or religion, in keeping the promise of Virginia," he said. "Ours will be a nonpartisan Virginia agenda that includes all. …