Patricia Zengerle's coverage of U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine at Reuters assumes that the Democratic former Virginia Governor committed the mother of all gaffes today. I'm not so sure. It may be that David Corn's secret video of Mitt Romney commenting on the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes and are dependent on the government is sending polling data in the opposite direction from what was intended and is starting to rattle Democrats.
Look at how Zengerle framed what Kaine said:
Democratic Virginia Senate candidate Kaine "open" to taxing 47 percent
Tim Kaine handed rival George Allen a gift in their closely watched Virginia Senate race on Thursday, when he said unexpectedly he would be "open" to a plan to force all Americans to pay some level of federal income taxes.
Kaine made his comment in a lunchtime debate when he was asked something that should have been easy for him - to weigh in on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's assertion that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income taxes and feel entitled to government assistance.
"I would be open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone," Kaine said, a comment that seemed ideal for use in Allen's advertising ahead of the November 6 election.
Kaine continued by referring to Romney, saying, "But I do insist, many of the 47 percent that Governor Romney was going after pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than he does."
The gaffe came just as polls showed Kaine starting to pull away from Allen, a former governor and senator. The two men are vying for the Senate seat now held by retiring Democrat Jim Webb, who narrowly defeated Allen's re-election bid six years ago.
It is probably not a coincidence that a Rasmussen poll published today shows that "64% Think Too Many Americans Dependent on Government Financial Aid." This would appear to mean that a lot of those in the "47%" who Mitt Romney strangely believes he will never reach are eminently reachable. Meanwhile, Romney's observation that 47% of Americans don't pay income tax may be sticking in the craw of many who didn't know that until David Corn's video assisted them in learning that fact.
It really shouldn't surprise anyone, contrary to Patricia Zengerle's stunned reaction, if we learn that Kaine meant what he said and said what he meant.
As to the press's handling of Kaine's "gaffe," how many reporters are going to stir the pot and ask other Democratic candidates whether they agree with Kaine?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.