Kilgore attacks Kaine. Kaine whines.

From yesterday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, on the Virginia governor’s race:

Republican Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore yesterday labeled Democratic Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, his likely opponent for governor in 2005, as “John Kerry with a Richmond address.”

Outlining what may be a major attack theme of his campaign for governor, Kilgore said Kaine, like Kerry, is opposed to the death penalty.

“Both believe in higher taxes rather than smarter government,” Kilgore told about 400 Republican activists attending the Republican Party of Virginia’s annual Advance at the posh Homestead resort.

“Both believe the Second Amendment to be some sort of antiquated colonial relic. Both have failed to stand up for a culture of life. Both are out of touch with Virginia values,” he said.

Mike Henry, Kaine’s campaign manager, responded that Kilgore was launching the first attack of the campaign because he doesn’t have a positive agenda.

To recap, in brief:

Kilgore: Blaaarrrghhhh!
Kaine: Meep?

Like I said, Kilgore is going to run a nasty campaign, and Kaine is going to lose if he doesn’t fight back. Campaign manager Mike Henry could have responded by pointing out that Kilgore both bashed Kaine for opposition to the death penalty and for not being a part of the “culture of life” — these two goals are mutually exclusive. He could have responded by accusing Kilgore of fraud and participating in the cover-up over the Republican eavesdropping scandal. He could have had any number of rejoinders prepared.

Instead, the response is that Kilgore doesn’t have a positive agenda. OK, fine, he doesn’t. Is this bad? I mean, I think it is, but does polling support the notion that accusing the opponent of not having a positive agenda is something that is going to hurt him? I’m thinking not. There’s nothing wrong with Kaine running a positive campaign. But he can’t roll over and cry foul every time that Kilgore attacks him. And he damned well needs surrogates going after Kilgore. Without aggressive responses and a well-orchestrated series of attacks on Kilgore, this is a losing proposition.