Hitler becomes an issue in Va. governors race

richmond, va. (ap) | Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore is drawing fire for campaign ads that suggest his Democratic opponent is so averse to the death penalty he would have spared Adolph Hitler from execution.

The radio and TV ads feature victims’ relatives who tearfully recount the crimes that killed their loved ones and say they don’t trust Democrat Tim Kaine to administer the state’s death penalty.

Kaine, who says his moral objections to capital punishment are rooted in his Roman Catholic faith, responded with an ad pledging to carry out death sentences “because it’s the law.”

One of the ads supporting Kilgore, who currently serves as Virginia’s attorney general, cites a Richmond Times-Dispatch column that said Kaine had “suggested he would not favor sending even Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or Idi Amin to the gallows.”

A commercial featuring death penalty proponent Stanley Rosenbluth has him looking into the camera and saying: “Tim Kaine says Adolf Hitler doesn’t qualify for the death penalty. This was one of the worst mass murderers in modern times.”

Some Jewish leaders said Friday that the commercials trivialize the Holocaust and should be withdrawn.

Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh defended the ads and said that Rosenbluth spoke from his heart.

Kaine, the lieutenant governor, is seeking to succeed Gov. Mark R. Warner, a fellow Democrat who is barred by the state constitution from seeking a second consecutive term this fall.