Former Virginia governors George Allen and Tim Kaine held their final debate Thursday night in the hotly contested race to determine who will succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch
, each challenged the other on who had the best plan for dealing with the ailing economy and who had done the best job for the state as governor. But their sharpest exchange came when Republican Allen accused Democrat Kaine of wanting to be "President Obama's senator."
"I want to be Virginia's senator. Tim wants to be President Obama's senator," Allen said in his opening salvo of the debate, which took place on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
He said Kaine had turned his back on the state during his time as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Kaine defended his friendship with the president, however, and accused Allen of what Times-Dispatch described as "hyper-partisanship."
"I do not think it is anti-Virginian to support the president of the United States," Kaine said, noting that as governor he had worked as well with President George W. Bush on a number of issues.
"When George was in the Senate, he voted with President Bush 96 percent of the time, but no one had the temerity to suggest that George Allen wasn't Virginia's senator because he supported President Bush," Kaine said, referring to Allen's one term in the U.S. Senate before he was defeated by Webb in 2006.
With that, Allen accused Kaine of demonizing Republicans when he served as DNC chairman.
"He called Republicans corrosive; he called Republicans 'The Donner Party,' 'The Tea Bag Party.' That is not bipartisan," Allen declared.
In addition to the economy, the two also clashed on environmental issues, including the science surrounding global warming. But things got heated again when the issue of automatic defense cuts scheduled to begin for early next year came up.
Kaine, along with most Republicans, including Gov. Bob McDonnell and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, supported the debt deal between Congress and the president that could lead to the automatic cuts, or sequestration. Allen opposed the deal and criticized Kaine for embracing it.
According to the Times-Dispatch, Kaine has proposed raising taxes on people making over a half million dollars a year to avert the cuts, along with eliminating subsidies for big oil companies, and allowing negotiations on Medicare prescription drug prices.
"Tim once again talks about raising taxes," Allen said. "And I think it is very wrong to be using the 200,000 men and women in Virginia whose jobs are threatened by this sequestration … as a political bargaining chip to raise taxes on job-creating small businesses."
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