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Tim Kaine, Mark Warner Excite Virginia Democratic Faithful

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Tim Kaine’s Saturday speech focused on what he’s heard most from voters as he traveled Virginia over the past 10 months: the economy, fiscal responsibility and finding common ground in Congress.

RICHMOND, Va. Virginia Democrats fired up the partys base Saturday night at their annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, a formal kickoff to the election year in this presidential and Senate race epicenter.

More than 1,200 state legislators, party activists and supporters gathered at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, raising $350,000 for the state party and filling e-mail sign-up sheets for President Barack Obamas re-election and ex-Gov. Tim Kaines campaign for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D).

2012 is going to be a great year, Kaine said to a standing ovation as attendees in the ballroom waved his campaign signs. You stick with me, were going to win, were going to do great things.

In a top battleground for Obama, the presidents victory here is in turn crucial for Kaine. Speaking with reporters before the dinner, Kaine concurred with public polling that has consistently shown his race with former governor and Sen. George Allen (R) within the margin of error and said he expects that to continue into November.

Were starting to have a fairly consistent edge with independents, thats positive, Kaine said. I like whats happening in the presidential polling, but Im no stranger to close races. And the way its setting up now, its energizing, but I like what I see.

Kaines dinner speech focused on what hes heard most from voters as he traveled the state over the past 10 months: the economy, fiscal responsibility and finding common ground between the parties in Congress. He criticized the negativism and skepticism of Republicans running for president and slammed Allen for his Senate record, including supporting legislation that led the country from a budget surplus to regular deficits.

Kaine reiterated support for the presidents decision Friday to amend the mandate on contraception coverage for women in all health insurance plans.

The resolution to that issue yesterday was pro-contraception and pro-religious liberty, Kaine said. And the only people who oppose it are anti-contraception, lets be very clear about that.

A recorded video message from Obama campaign manager Jim Messina highlighted the presidents accomplishments over the past three years and said an Obama victory in Virginia will help Democrats up and down the ticket, including my good friend, the next Senator of Virginia, Tim Kaine.

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