Q&A with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine

Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine discussed the DNC's strategy for the 2010 election at an April 28 Monitor Lunch.

Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor
Governor Tim Kaine said at a recent Monitor Breakfast that fundraising for the 2010 election has been strong despite the DNC no longer taking contributions from lobbyists or political action committees.

Tim Kaine served both as Virginia's lieutenant governor and governor before being elected to head the Democratic National Committee in January 2009. He was the guest at a Monitor lunch in Washington on April 28.

On Democrats' positioning for the 2010 elections:

"Democrats under President Obama's leadership have been a results party and that is what Americans want…. The Republicans, on the other hand, have been a party of obstruction…. We think Americans will reward results rather than obstruction. And we think we have a capacity to do much better in these midterms than a lot of people think."

On the risks of running as a 'results party' when many voters disapprove of President Obama's performance in some areas:

"There is never a risk to be running on results."

On the midterm election climate:

"Since Teddy Roosevelt, the average president in the first midterm election loses 28 House seats and four Senate seats, and governors races as well. That's the norm. And so I tell Democrats everywhere I go that ... if that is the average, since we are not living in average times we have to assume that head wind is even a bit stiffer."

On Democratic National Committee fundraising:

"Fundraising has been strong. And I want to point out ... [that] fundraising has been strong despite the fact that for the first time the DNC does not take money from [political action committees] or from federally registered lobbyists. That was a significant portion of our budget before I became chair. We are completely funded off individual contributions now, and yet we have been successful enough to be able to put unprecedented resources onto the field."

On the 'tea party' movement's impact on the midterm elections:

"It is unpredictable. It is a decentralized movement, so I am not sure it is going to have the same effect everywhere.… There is energy there, and we have to take that seriously. The energy can cut a lot of different directions. Some of the energy in the tea party movement is cutting against Republican incumbent candidates or even nonincumbents who are not thought to be ideologically in the place where [the] local tea party chapter is."

On a shift in dynamics for political parties:

"What we are seeing is the right kind of politics is increasingly more and more personal, hand to hand, person to person, neighborhood to neighborhood. [Former DNC chairman Howard] Dean did the 50 states strategy. We are building on that to almost create a neighborhood by neighborhood strategy. And I think if you don't do that kind of thing, you are right, some of the changes in the political dynamic could make us irrelevant."

On losing Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts:

"The Massachusetts race, I think, was a 'Ghost of Christmas Future' experience for us. It was better to have that in January, as painful as it was, better to have that in January 2010 than November. And we did a lot of assessment at the DNC and the White House, too, about how we could be better and stronger."

On the effects of disputes within the Republican Party:

"We've got some key ... races for us in the United States right now – Florida, the Texas governorship – where ... our chances are being improved because of the corrosive, internecine civil war on the other side."

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