Tim Kaine, former Virginia governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, made a speech about U.S. politics to international students in an English as a Second Language class last week.
The speech was held in professor Nuray Grove's class at the Carole Weinstein International Center. About 15 international students attended the speech, as well as faculty and staff members.
Kaine was the governor of Virginia from January 2006 to January 2010, and he has also been the chairman of the Democratic National Committee since January 2009. He taught in the University of Richmond from 1988 to 1993, and has recently returned to teach classes in the law school as a senior distinguished lecturer.
"It's a very challenging set of elections for my party," Kaine said, referring to the midterm elections, which are to be held this Tuesday, Nov. 2. As the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he said he has been in Washington and traveling to promote President Obama's agenda and to support Democratic candidates as the election is approaching.
"Midterm elections are always tough," Kaine said, "but in particular, there is a lot of anger out there in the American electorate because of the tough economy, and I also maintain that there is anger and uncertainty because some people are not happy with Barack Obama as the president, and there is kind of an effort to battle against him today."
Kaine said that part of the struggle is the tradition in America since the 1870s, in which the parties in power have always struggled in midterm elections, because they tend to reset the "wave" that occurred in the prior presidential election.
"There are 59 Democrats and 41 Republicans in the Senate today, but we all know that's not how the nation is," he said.
Kaine said that although he thought the Democrats will still be able to maintain the majority in both houses after this election, there will be a lot of fighting back against the president's agenda by Republicans. He said that his advice to the president had been to use his executive powers to the full extent and avoid preventions by the legislature, as he did as the governor of Virginia with a Republican legislature.
When questioned about the change in campaign funding and strategies in regards to the blocking of the disclosure act in July, Kaine said that it was a "very serious threat to our democratic institution." He said that he and the Democratic party will have to find a way to deal with this new reality after the midterm election.
Kaine said that it was "a challenging time, but also a fascinating time" for the Democrats and himself, and said that he loved the opportunity to have the job and work with the president.
Kaine also said that he liked his job as a professor at the University of Richmond because it gave him a good mental frame for the rest of his work to start off every week with students who were "a little more altruistic, a little more public-spirited, who haven't got jaded or cynical about public service."
Ben Liu, a freshman from China who attended the speech, said that Kaine appeared as a skillful and practical person, and he found the speech interesting.
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