Interview with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine

Interview with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine

By The Situation Room - November 1, 2010

BLITZER: A final snapshot of the Republican advantage going into the battle for Congress tomorrow.

Our brand new CNN poll of polls, averaging six national surveys, shows the GOP with an 8 point lead over Democrats in the so-called generic ballot, would you rather support a Republican as opposed to a Democrat?

Joining us now, the Democratic National Committee chairman, the former Virginia governor, Tim Kaine.

Governor, thanks for coming in.


Glad to be here.

BLITZER: Which race is keeping you up tonight the longest?

Which race are you most worried about?

KAINE: Well, you know, rather than say that, well, Wolf, here's -- here's the way I answer that one. Having served as a governor and been out on the trail a lot, I've gotten pretty close to some of these candidates. So here are two races -- one governor's race and one Senate race. In Ohio, Ted Strickland was down in the Quinnipiac Poll by 17 points before Labor Day. He has brought that race now to a dead heat.

I was with him yesterday in Cleveland, and the momentum on his team has been very, very strong. And fact that they closed that gap means that's a race I'm definitely going to be watching.

And then there's been a very similar move in the Pennsylvania Senate race with Joe Sestak. Again, double digits down around Labor Day, brought that race to nearly a dead heat. A lot of activity on the ground in those states. So those are two races I'm going to watch maybe particularly closely.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We should know early in the evening whether Sestak wins in Pennsylvania, Strickland wins in Ohio. What about Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader in Nevada? We won't know for a few hours after that. In the most recent polls Sharron Angle, the Tea Party Republican seems slightly ahead of him.

KAINE: I've seen her ahead in some polls, but I'll tell you this. I've been out to Nevada probably three times in the last 30 days, and the field operation that Senator Reid has is enormously strong.

With investments from the DNC and so many others, the Nevada State party strong. They know how to do field campaigning there. You're right. It's almost like every time zone has its own most closely watched races.

We'll know a little about those races in Ohio and Pennsylvania then take a breather and two hours later know a lot more about Nevada.

BLITZER: The Cook Report, Charlie Cook, Stewart Rothenberg, are highly respected. They're both suggesting not only the 39-net gain for Republicans in the House, but maybe 50 or 60 seats could go to the Republicans in net gain. That would be a huge disaster in terms of what you're looking at down the road.

KAINE: Well, it would be tough. Four months ago, the Republicans were saying they were going to win both the Senate and the House. Now they seem to be backing away from their claims about the Senate. We're not taking any Senate race for granted.

You know, we believe we'll hold on to both houses. They think they'll take both houses. Maybe they're backing away from the Senate, but we're seeing some of those tough predictions.

But, Wolf, the other thing we're seeing is there are predictions, but then there's also early voting. We're doing analysis of the early votes as they are cast and we see Democrats do very, very well in most of our jurisdictions.

Outperforming Republicans, outperforming 2006 early voting turnout and also outperforming our own models so there may well be some surprises based upon not polling, but the actual turnout we're seeing thus far.

BLITZERZ: We'll see how that turnout is. The turnout is obviously critical. One final question, if it is a disaster for the Democrats tomorrow and if there -- if they blame -- a lot of folks blame the president and his policies for the first two years, how worried are you that he could face a Democratic challenge with a Democratic presidential nomination in 2012?

KAINE: You know, Wolf, I'm not particularly worried about it. I was with the president yesterday in Cleveland. We came back to Washington together.

I think he has the right attitude about it, which is you've got a historical perspective. You look at these midterms. The midterms are almost always tough for the party with the White House.

Some of greatest American presidents, Truman happens to be a favorite of mine, you know, did so much good work in his first two years then lost both Houses in the midterms, then people counted him out.

Not only did he win election, won both Houses back two years later. There are lessons here. There's always climbing the learning curve for a new president and always ways to do better.

I think the president is proud of the accomplishments of the administration and also, you know, very focused on what things can be done now in the next two years to continue to accelerate the economic recovery. I think he's going to do those things and I think the party will be unified behind him in 2012.

BLITZER: Tim Kaine is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Governor, thanks very much for coming in.

KAINE: You bet, Wolf.


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