U.S. Senate candidates Tim Kaine and George Allen enjoyed the 11th-hour benefits of Virginia’s swing-state status Monday, getting high-profile nods of support from Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Mitt Romney, respectively, at events across the commonwealth and in voter-rich Northern Virginia.
“I tell [you] what, guys. I’ve been to a lot of rallies this campaign,” Mr. Biden said. “These are three of the finest leaders in the United States of America.”
“This Warner guy — he’s so popular, we’re just hanging onto his coat,” he continued, adding that for Mr. Webb, he’s never met anybody “who has the combination of being smarter and tougher and just straight, flat honorable as this man right here.”
Later on at a local field office, Mr. Kaine returned the favor and thanked Mr. Biden and President Obama for making Virginia relevant in terms of presidential elections again. Mr. Obama’s 2008 win was the first time a Democratic presidential candidate carried the state since President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
“[F]or a long time, nobody took Virginia seriously in presidential politics, after LBJ’s win in ‘64,” Mr. Kaine said, according to a pool report. “Democrats didn’t take us seriously. Democrats didn’t come because, why bother? Republicans didn’t come because they didn’t need to. We weren’t on the main stage in a presidential year. We were in the shadows.”
Mr. Obama, who won the state by 6 percentage points in 2008, holds a minuscule 0.3 percentage point lead, 48 percent to 47.7 percent, in the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls for Virginia. Mr. Kaine is outrunning the president, but not by much. He leads Mr. Allen by 1.8 percentage points, 48.6 percent to 46.8 percent, in one of a handful of U.S. Senate races that will determine which party controls the chamber come January.
Between money doled out by the two candidates’ campaigns and party and independent groups, more than $80 million has now been spent on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Mr. Biden, after bringing pizzas into the field office from Benny Marconi’s, a local eatery in Roanoke, once again lumped himself together with Mr. Kaine and Mr. Warner, saying he always worked with then-Sen. John W. Warner — Virginia’s longtime Republican senator whose seat Mark Warner now occupies. The two Warners are not related.
“And I’m going to say something presumptuous,” Mr. Biden declared, according to a pool report. “My career in the Senate, I got an awful lot done. And I think Mark would tell you I still have an awful lot of friends up there who are Republicans and Democrats. It’s been the hallmark of how the three of us have worked. That’s why we get on so well together.”
But if Mr. Kaine had Mr. Webb, Mr. Warner and Mr. Biden in his corner Monday, Mr. Allen had Mr. Romney and Virginia’s current governor, Bob McDonnell, who is widely popular across the political spectrum in his own right. The Republicans also had an audience of 8,500 people inside the Patriot Center at George Mason University, with an overflow crowd of 3,000 people outside.
Mr. McDonnell, before introducing Mitt Romney, called Mr. Allen “one of the great reform governors of the modern era,” citing his move to effectively abolish parole in the state during the 1990s as one example.
“Virginians want to see change,” Mr. Allen said before the feverish crowd, which was so massive that Mr. Romney jokingly wondered whether the Beatles were there when he took the stage. “They want to see change in the Senate, and they want to see change in the White House.”
Mr. Romney agreed.
Mr. Romney campaigned earlier in the day in Lynchburg, Va., and is trying to ensure that the state’s 13 Electoral College votes fall to him this year. Mr. Kaine started his day at a campaign stop in Norfolk, and was scheduled to join Mr. Biden in Richmond Monday evening at an event with musician John Mellencamp.