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Tim Kaine: A New Model for Democrats?

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's selection to deliver the Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address comes as no surprise to Cornell Belcher -- the lead pollster at the Democratic National Committee.

Gov. Tim Kaine
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine delivered the Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union address (Associated Press)

During a conversation last week for The Fix's "Insider Interview," Belcher cast Kaine's victorious 2005 campaign as an example of where Democrats as a party need to go message-wise.  Belcher said that Kaine was able to frame his issue positions on controversial matters like abortion and the death penalty as a question of values. Kaine talked repeatedly about his Roman Catholic faith and work as a missionary in Honduras in the early 1980s. That message ran against GOP candidate Jerry Kilgore's effort to paint Kaine as outside of the mainstream for his unwavering opposition to the death penalty.

"The brilliance of the Virginia campaign was when you stand up for what you believe in and talk about it from your values center it can inoculate you from Republican attacks," said Belcher. "When you talk about your policies from a values standpoint it becomes a different kind of conversation."

So is Kaine a trend-setter or just an anomaly in the Democratic Party?  Time will tell, although having a Kaine advocate like Belcher at the DNC seems to indicate we'll be hearing more values talk from Democrats in the coming campaign.

Click the screen below to watch Kaine's Democratic response:

In delivering the official Democratic response to President Bush's speech, newly elected Governor Tim Kaine assails the administration's performance in Iraq, its response to Hurricane Katrina and its management of the nation's health care system. He urges Bush to restore the competence that he identified as lacking in government administration. (Editor: Chet Rhodes -

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 31, 2006; 10:50 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party , Governors  
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Next: Parsing the Polls: A State of the Union Bounce?

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