RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) - "It's time for bridge builders and not bridge destroyers," newly-elected U.S. Senator Tim Kaine said.
With that, Kaine took questions from reporters Wednesday during a news conference. Kaine defeated former governor and Republican challenger George Allen for retiring Senator Jim Webb's seat.
Kaine was philosophical about finding a path forward in Washington. He is concerned about improving the infrastructure of America like roads and schools and is looking for compromise, and working together instead of exercising the politics of division.
Wednesday, the senator-elect told reporters the secret to his 19-month successful campaign.
"I think the outcome in Virginia spoke very clearly that the person to person grass roots politics can beat big checks and negative ads. From the very beginning of this campaign we invested in the field operation, and building up a huge base of small dollar donors. By the end we had 50,000 contributors to the campaign," Kaine added. The ripple effect of all those invested partners not only got out the message, and the momentum, but also in the end got out the votes.
Kaine says in his polling results the biggest concern was not the budget deficit, but was disgusted that we have a Congress unable and unwilling to work together.
"They are telling us over and over and over again they want us to work together," Kaine said.
He hopes to be appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the new junior senator from Virginia spoke about senior Senator Mark Warner. Kaine says he does not support Warner leaving the Senate in the hopes of becoming Governor of Virginia next year.
Kaine was the second most targeted candidate by negative super pac secret money ads in the dountry. In the end, his campaign organization apparently trumped all of that. He also had another secret weapon. It became a headline in the elections across the country.
Exit polls show Latino Americans were a big reason President Barack Obama was re-elected. The Latino community is now a political force to be reckoned with, and Kaine realized that on the first day of his election for Senate. Candidate Tim Kaine used Spanish early and often everyday on the campaign trail.
"I speak Spanish pretty much every day now because of the population of Latinos in Virginia."
Kaine targeted voters like Herminna Escobar who was in line four hours at Green Run High School. "I havefamily, the future of my grandchildren, and I think it is important to get involved," Escobar said.
Latinos like Escobar made a huge difference in the election. Exit polls showed they voted for President Obama 71 percent to Mitt Romney's 27 percent.
"You want to speak with people in a way that is most persuasive. We decided to have extensive outreach to the approximately 200,000 Latino voters in Virginia," Kaine added. If they went to Kaine's campaign website, they would perfectly understand everything Kaine stands for because it is there in Spanish. Kaine also spent election day doing 20 radio interviews, and five of them on Spanish only radio stations.
"People appreciate your asking for their support and directly in the way they understand and that is persuasive too."
Nationally, based on polling most Latinos are firmly in support of democratic candidates. It is clear on the day after the election there are conversations among republican operatives on how to reach out and touch Latino voters and to give them something to vote for.
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