- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Timothy M. Kaine yesterday took his biggest asset — Gov. Mark Warner — on the gubernatorial campaign trail in Virginia, as the rhetoric and attack advertisements put out by both main-party candidates ramped up in the final weeks of the race.

The Democratic governor stumped for Mr. Kaine, his Democratic lieutenant governor, at schools in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads and at a fundraiser in Richmond.

Both Mr. Kaine and his Republican opponent, Jerry W. Kilgore, who are neck-and-neck in the latest polls, are slamming each other in their television ad campaigns.

Mr. Kilgore’s latest spot accuses Mr. Kaine of being “too liberal to be governor” and uses a 19-month-old news story quoting Mr. Kaine to suggest the Democrat would raise the gasoline tax.

“Tim Kaine — liberal on the gas tax, too liberal to be governor,” a female announcer says. “In Kaine’s world, every time the price of gas goes up, the tax you pay goes up even more, making Virginia’s gas tax among the highest in the nation.”

The ad refers to Mr. Kaine’s early interest in a $4 billion tax-increase plan promoted by Senate Republicans in February 2004. That plan included, among other tax increases, a gas-tax increase to pay for transportation projects. Mr. Kaine ultimately supported a bipartisan plan, which passed in May 2004 and increased taxes by $1.38 billion.

“Tim Kaine will raise gas taxes,” Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh said yesterday.

Mr. Kaine has an ad featuring an elementary school-age child who says Mr. Kilgore would cut education funding. The ad also uses old citations to say Mr. Kilgore would repeal the state lottery, which helps fund education.

It also attacks Mr. Kilgore for opposing the tax-increase package last year that allowed for increased education funding.

“Kilgore promised he’d undo Gov. Warner’s budget that made historic investments in education,” a female announcer says.

The ad concludes with a shot of the girl wearing a book bag.

“Hey, Jerry, pick on somebody your own size,” the girl says in the ad, which is running statewide.

The girl’s parents are Kaine supporters who live in the Richmond area, but do not want her identified by name, said Kaine spokeswoman Delacey Skinner.

Mr. Warner, who is barred constitutionally from seeking a second term, also has gone on the attack in a recent Kaine fundraising letter.

“[Mr. Kilgore] has offered no real long-term solutions to the challenges we face,” Mr. Warner wrote. “And now, as he runs for governor, he has promised to turn back the clock.”

The governor said Mr. Kilgore is dragging out the “same tired labels.”

“And after fighting our efforts to pay our bills and invest in the future, now he’s proposing billions of dollars in new government spending. That’s the kind of fiscal irresponsibility that got us into trouble in the first place,” Mr. Warner wrote.

Mr. Kaine and Mr. Warner yesterday visited Jefferson-Houston School for Arts and Academics in Alexandria. They toured pre-kindergarten classes, sang songs with some special-needs children and talked about Mr. Kaine’s plan to offer pre-kindergarten to all Virginia 4-year-olds if he is elected.

“There’s such a passion for early-childhood education,” Mr. Kaine said yesterday when touting his plan. “An investment early on makes such a difference for all kids in terms of their ability to learn and to succeed, but particularly for kids with special needs.”

One toddler told Mr. Warner that he wanted to be governor one day.

“Before you get to be governor, you see that guy? He’s going to be governor next,” Mr. Warner told the child, pointing at Mr. Kaine.

After the appearance at the school, Mr. Warner and Mr. Kaine visited a nearby burger restaurant, where they ordered a “bunch of cheeseburgers and fries.”

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