VA Political Candidates Attend 'LaborFest' to Mark Start of Political Season
Labor Day is the traditional start of the political season, and the Shenandoah Valley is home to one of the biggest kickoff events.
Democrats and Republicans who gathered in Buena Vista for "LaborFest" agree on one thing - the stakes in November could not be higher. The parade route Monday, through the main drag of Buena Vista, looked like Main Street USA lined with the middle class families that are every candidate's target.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen said, "This is a Labor Day that we honor working men and women. But sadly there's 23 million who are out of work right now or underemployed. We've got to get this economy going, and that's going to be my mission as a U.S senator."
Allen says the answer is to tap into America's energy resources, while cutting taxes and regulations on business. His opponent for the U.S. Senate seat, Democrat Tim Kaine, says that's not enough.
"We wouldn't balance the budget just by slashing infrastructure and education and Medicare spending. We'd invest in the priorities that help folks succeed. And we'd find common ground. Dividing people and pulling them apart, that's not going to take our nation forward. We need more bridge-builders," said Kaine.
Kaine's call for civility included his own supporters who engaged in chanting battles with Republicans. But 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte blames the sluggish economy squarely on Democrats for what he calls business-crushing mandates, including federal health care.
Goodlatte said, "They've already written 12,000 pages of new regulations to implement this very, very costly program that's going to bust the budget of our country. So we need to rein in government spending and increase the incentives for people to invest in the private sector."
Democrat Andy Schmookler aims to unseat the 10-term incumbent, by tying him to entrenched politicians and corporate greed.
"It's about honest versus dishonest. It's about willingness to serve the greater good versus the spirit of everything I can get for me and my guys. That's what's at stake, and it couldn't be more profound," said Schmookler.
That perhaps is the only point where the two parties find common ground. Candidates from the two major parties also agreed Monday on Virginia's pivotal role in the 2012 presidential race. As Tim Kaine put it, "It's better to matter... and we matter."
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