I am an optimist about America’s future.  I reject the pessimism about America that is too common today.  My life experience -- as a young man working with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, as a civil rights lawyer battling housing discrimination in Richmond, as an elected official representing great constituents at the state and local level -- has taught me to be a practical optimist.

We’re living in tough times, but we’ve seen tough times before.  Just as in the past, our innovative and resilient spirit will enable us to lead and thrive in a changing and uncertain world.  To do so, we need leaders who are courageous enough to make hard decisions, smart enough to think long term about our national direction, and independent enough to reject party lines to creatively address our needs.

America has challenges, but Virginia has answers.  In most of the key areas of national debate -- the economy, fiscal responsibility, the need to find common ground in our politics -- Virginia has strong lessons to offer a nation searching for renewed purpose.  My wife Anne and I have had the good fortune to serve people in this Commonwealth for the last 27 years, both through elected office and other forms of public service.  During this time, we’ve seen Virginia grow more economically dynamic, more diverse and inclusive, and more politically competitive.  If I am elected to the Senate in 2012, I will take the lessons I’ve learned over a lifetime of public service to Washington and join with others who want to break through gridlock and find results for the best nation on earth.