Virginia Senate Race 2012: George Allen, Tim Kaine Talking Up Cooperation

LEESBURG, Va. — Democrat Tim Kaine talks a lot about Republicans – the ones in his family, the ones he’s worked with and the ones he hopes will help him bridge the caustic political divide if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate.

“We can’t have a functioning nation with a dysfunctional legislative branch,” the former Democratic Party chairman says at a recent campaign stop. “John Warner said something to me: `It’s not sick-building syndrome, it’s not in the water supply. It’s in the character and the inclination of the people who walk in there every day.’ The only way it will change is if we put in people who have a different set of character and inclinations.”

Kaine’s words draw loud applause from the seniors at Leisure World in this northern Virginia suburb, most of them Democrats, a few wearing “Grandma for Obama” buttons.

Former Virginia Sen. Warner isn’t the only Republican whom Kaine mentions in his hour-long question-and-answer session on budgets, health care and education. He cites President Dwight Eisenhower, praises Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and mentions that his hero is his father-in-law – Linwood Holton, who in 1970 was Virginia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

A few days later, at a retirement community near Fort Belvoir, Republican candidate George Allen eagerly recounts stories of successful bipartisanship from his days in the state legislature and talks of being “united regardless of party or where we live.” The former senator ticks off the names of Democrats he worked with – Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ron Wyden – and the ones he’s certain would join forces with him on energy – Mary Landrieu, Joe Manchin, perhaps Mark Begich.

“I hope to win not because someone is so much against the other side. There’s obviously differences. That’s to be expected in a representative democracy. Not everyone has the same opinion. … Then you have civil engagement where you discuss those ideas. Civil engagement is the best approach to create more jobs, better security, whatever the issue may be and let the people decide,” Allen says.

Kaine and Allen – two former governors locked in an excruciatingly close race

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