By Ashley Killough
(CNN) — Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine of Virginia, who once headed the Democratic National Committee, disagreed with President Barack Obama on the president’s call to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning under $250,000 per year.
Kaine, a former Virginia governor, argued the threshold should be twice as high, at $500,000.
In a statement Monday, the Senate hopeful said raising the cut-off would protect tax cuts for the middle class and many small business owners, as well as ensure “flexibility to make critical investments” that would strengthen the economy.
“The cuts required to dig out of our fiscal hole will fall hardest on low and middle-income families,” Kaine said. “Allowing the tax cuts to expire above $500,000 guarantees that all Americans have a stake in restoring fiscal responsibility and rebuilding our economy.”
Kaine’s differing opinion comes as he faces a heated race against Republican opponent and fellow former Gov. George Allen, who once held the Senate seat before losing his re-election bid in 2006.
Kaine, who left the DNC chairmanship last year to run for the Senate, is known to have close ties with Obama. The president and former President Bill Clinton headlined a major fund-raiser for the Senate candidate in April. Vice President Joe Biden also appeared at a fund-raising event for Kaine in May.
The race, which has largely been underway for the last year, is perhaps one of the most closely watch Senate races, pitting two former governors against each other and taking place in a crucial swing state.
The former governor, however, isn’t the only Democrat up for election to push back against the president on the issue.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, whom Biden stumped for at a fund-raising event Monday, said in a statement she is “open” to extending the tax cuts for families that earn up to $1 million, if it’s part of a “compromise that helps us get to $4-5 trillion in debt reduction.”
Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, also up for re-election, supports permanently extending the tax breaks for “everybody making less than $1 million,” his office said in a statement.
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