- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2012

A new poll has President Obama and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine with slight leads over their likely Republican opponents in Virginia, where both Democrats are sure to spend a significant amount of time between now and November.

Mr. Obama leads presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney 46 percent to 42 percent, with 11 percent undecided in the poll, conducted NBC/Marist. Counting undecided voters leaning toward a candidate, Mr. Obama has a 48 percent to 44 percent lead.

Add Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell to the GOP ticket, and the lead for Mr. Obama shrinks to 46 percent to 44 percent — within the poll’s 3 percent margin of error — with 9 percent undecided.

Meanwhile, in Virginia’s closely watched Senate race involving two former governors, Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, leads Republican front-runner George Allen 46 percent to 40 percent, with 13 percent undecided.

Including undecideds who are leaning toward one of the candidates, Mr. Kaine holds a 49 percent to 43 percent lead.

Mr. Kaine is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, while Mr. Allen still has a primary to get through on June 12. On Thursday, he picked up the endorsement of Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican and a leading conservative on Capitol Hill. Mr. Allen is scheduled to participate in the last of three GOP primary debates on Friday in Falls Church.

Mr. Kaine spent Thursday afternoon at the Greenspring retirement community in Springfield as part of a two-week tour discussing Medicare and Social Security with seniors. Greenspring has been its own voting precinct since 2003 and has typically had the highest voter turnout in the state. He was scheduled to head to McLean on Thursday evening for a fundraiser featuring Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

“It’s such a treat to be back at Greenspring,” he told a nearly full auditorium at an event, hosted by the retirement community’s Democratic Club. “I came here when I was a candidate for lieutenant governor, and I won that race. I came as a candidate for governor, and I won that race. So I was definitely going to come this time.”

He called Social Security the “most effective domestic program” ever enacted by Congress, saying he would fight against any attempt to privatize the program if elected.

Following the lead of a woman he met at a similar event recently, he bristled at the negative connotations associated with the word “entitlement,” as the programs are commonly called, instead saying Medicare and Social Security are “earned benefits.”

To trim costs, he broached the idea of allowing for price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies in the Medicare Part D prescription-drug program. Mr. Kaine said if prices were the same as those negotiated for prescription drugs for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it would save the federal government $25 billion a year.

Though the event was hosted by the community’s Democratic Club, voters do not register by party in Virginia. But 31 percent of the registered voters in the Marist/NBC poll said they were Democrats, 29 percent said they were Republicans, and 39 percent were independents.

Twenty-two percent of the 1,076 registered voters surveyed said they were “very liberal” or “liberal,” 38 percent said they were moderate, and 40 percent said they were “conservative” or “very conservative.”

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