Kaine Faces the Bloggers

I just finished participating in the Tim Kaine conference call with bloggers. Kaine sounded relaxed and very comfortable with both his positions and the issues. He promised there would be more conference calls with bloggers down the road, calling blogs “Jeffersonian, “a big part of the dialog,” and the “21st century spin on what the First Amendment means.” All in all, it was an impressive performance, especially considering that facing bloggers is uncharted territory for most candidates.

Kaine began by summarizing his campaign as being in “good shape” with polls and fundraising. “I’m feeling good about the state of the race,” he said, as well as “we’re working our tails off.”

He tackled questions on rail in Charlottesville, where he emphasized the Baconian principle of tying transportation to land use; the environment, where he said there was “no substitute for investing”; education, where he called the lack of “meaningful and comprehensive teacher evaluations” to be the “biggest weakness” in Virginia schools; and economic development, where he said he would push hard for his $500 tax credit proposal for small businesses with under 50 employees to buy health insurance.

Kaine made a point of emphasizing fiscal responsibility, noting that he has not proposed a lot of new spending. He verified that he supported the notion of using “If you can find it in the Yellow Pages, maybe government shouldn’t be doing it” as a starting point for evaluating government reorganization. He called blue ribbon commissions frequent “excuses for inaction.”

I’m not sure the bloggers who participated asked tougher questions than might have been posed by “mainstream” reporters. Michael Shear of the Washington Post was in on the call; perhaps he’ll address it on his blog–or even in a news story.


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Comments

  1. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    I’m not sure the bloggers who participated asked tougher questions than might have been posed by “mainstream” reporters.

    That, I think, has two causes. The first is that that while familiarity breeds contempt, there’s a time prior to contempt in which there is mere frankness; journalists who routinely talk with Lt. Governor Kaine are at that point, while none of us are. The second cause is we are not, in fact, journalists. Bloggers (at our best) are known for being thoughtful, not interrogatory.

    Presumably, after more such conference calls are held, we’ll get more comfortable in our newfound role as quasi-journalists, and throw less softballs. 🙂

  2. Norman Avatar

    I agree, Waldo. Given time, the questioning would change. And would it have done any good for us to breathe rhetorical fire on the guy? Not really. That might only have played into the blogger stereotype…and we don’t want to scare Kaine — or anyone else — away, do we?

  3. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Good points. I used the phrase “tough questions” when maybe I just meant “different,” or more “in-depth,” or “less predictable.” We all know that bloggers are both praised and pilloried for approaching things from a different perspective than the mainstream media.

    If bloggers get more of a chance to question public figures and candiates, I’m sure they’ll “get better” and more comfortable.

    What drives some people crazy are supposedly “neutral” journalists asking questions that seem overly partisan. A blogger, if given the right chance, has the opportunity to cut through some of that by asking the question from the blog’s partisan point of view. The question/answer almost becomes a debate, not a cat-and-mouse “gotcha” exercise.

    It’ll be interesting to see if other candidates reach out to bloggers and if Kaine does it again. I suspect he will because I can’t think of any downside for him after this positive experience.

  4. Salt Lick Avatar
    Salt Lick

    Did he offer y’all any cat food?

  5. Laszlo Avatar

    Where’s Bloggin’ Jerry?

    No tape recorders please.

  6. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Salt Lick, one reason we suffer from Stockholm Syndrome is that we got hot BBQ, not cat food.

    Kaine didn’t convert me. He reminded me that he is a serious guy and will be tough to beat in November, especially if he stays true to himself and doesn’t try to be someone he’s not.

  7. vasportsmen Avatar
    vasportsmen

    That’s just it, Kaine is trying to be “moderately conservative” (boy that is an oxymoron), pro-life, and pro-gun because he knows if he holds true to the views he espoused before running for statewide office he would get clobbered.

    Giving credit where credit is due however, I have always said he is very smooth (not necessarily a compliment) and could teach Clinton a few things about being slick.

  8. Norman Avatar

    I see that Shear has posted on the call over at his WaPo site. Special mention is given to Will “Timid” Vehrs.

    Shear obviously expected us to bring our pitchforks and torches. Sorry to disappoint him (my pointed stick is currently in the shop for repairs).

    …Norm “Namby-Pamby” Leahy

  9. Salt Lick Avatar
    Salt Lick

    Just to be clear, Will, I hope you understood I was referencing the Doonesbury cartoon where Trudeau portrayed bloggers as pathetic nerds existing on cat food.

    I’ve never eaten cat food.

  10. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Sorry I missed that reference, Salt Lick. You are too quick for me.

    I only eat cat food when I can’t take the bus to Canada to buy my prescriptions.

  11. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “That’s just it, Kaine is trying to be “moderately conservative” (boy that is an oxymoron), pro-life, and pro-gun because he knows if he holds true to the views he espoused before running for statewide office he would get clobbered.”

    And if only you could cite something substantive about those views, this line of attack. Otherwise, you’re stuck with some rather weak stories about the MMomMarch, a lawsuit that never happened, and a bunch of other things Kaine has talked about but never pushed a policy on. Pretty thin darn evidence for painting him to be from, as our new celebrated blogger calls it the “far Left.”

  12. Ranger03 Avatar
    Ranger03

    And if only you could cite something substantive about those views, this line of attack. Otherwise, you’re stuck with some rather weak stories about the MMomMarch, a lawsuit that never happened, and a bunch of other things Kaine has talked about but never pushed a policy on.

    Are we to take “pushed a policy on” to mean legislation put to the G.A., and not position taking on specific things (like his opposition to parental consent to a 14 yr old’s abortion)? If so, then the electorate shouldn’t be holding people to campaign promises.

    Of course, if we do hold people to campaign promises it is fair to call Tim Kaine pro-abortion and anti-gun.

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