Democratic vice-presidential running candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) suggests that he has done what few swing-state Democrats have dared: taken on the National Rifle Association, reports the Washington Post.
“I know the NRA,” he said. “They’re headquartered in my state, in Virginia. They campaigned against me in every statewide race that I’ve ever run, but I’ve never lost. . . . I don’t mind powerful groups campaigning against me. That just is like an extra cup of coffee to me.” As Kaine hits the campaign trail and makes gun control a central Democratic theme in the 2016 race for the White House, his relationship with the nation’s powerful gun lobby is more nuanced than the kind of “High Noon” face-off he suggested.
In more than two decades in Virginia, a Southern state with a strong gun tradition and historically lenient firearm regulation, Kaine has pivoted on guns, in style and substance, depending on the political climate, the office he sought ,and particular events. He has been an urban mayor determined to reduce gun deaths. He has been a statewide candidate who embraced the Second Amendment and promised not to tighten gun laws. He has become quiet on the issue at times, and played offense at other moments.
Reviewing his record in detail, the Post says “Kaine has tailored his stance as the politics surrounding guns have evolved. His current push for more regulation reflects new calculations by Democrats that after years of mass shootings, they can campaign on gun control and win.” Both sides are betting big. The NRA has vowed to raise up to $75 million for 2016, almost twice what it spent in 2008. Gun-control groups plan to spend millions in battleground states, including Virginia.