Allen and Kaine square off in debate for Virginia Senate seat
By John Henrehan, FOX 5 Reporter
McLEAN, Va. -
Former Virginia Governors George Allen and Tim Kaine squared off in a one-hour debate before the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce Thursday. Both men are running for the open U.S. Senate seat. Current Senator Jim Webb (D) is choosing to not run for re-election.
Republican candidate George Allen criticized current Congressional legislation that mandates broad cutbacks in military spending and domestic spending unless a new budget deal is struck by Dec 31.
"It is so dangerous -- and so wrong -- to be to playing these political games with our armed services," Allen declared during the debate.
Democrat Kaine called for "shared sacrifice" to close budget deficits, and he offered specifics: "We will let the Bush tax cuts expire (as planned), [but only] for people making more than $500,000. We will fix Medicare so we can negotiate ... so we can get better prices on drugs. We will let the tax subsidies on the big five oil companies expire."
On gay marriage, Kaine said state legislatures should offer some kind of legal protections for same-sex couples.
"I would be fine if [legislatures] did it and they labeled it marriage, or civil union or domestic partnership," said Kaine.
George Allen said, as governor and senator, he did not discriminate based on sexual orientation, but he refused to endorse gay marriage.
"Well, I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman," said Allen.
Six years ago, George Allen lost re-election after famously referring to a young Virginia man [tracking his campaign] as a "macaca." Allen was asked by a reporter to address lingering concerns that may exist among some voters.
"I've stated on many occasions: that was a mistake," answered Allen. "I apologize for it. I never should have drawn that young man into the debate."
Tim Kaine told the audience everyone makes mistakes, but he reminded them of other harsh utterances that have come from George Allen. Turning to the Republican candidate, Kaine said, "And, George, you famously said (when you were governor) that you enjoyed 'knocking Democrats' soft teeth down their whiny throats.' And you didn't say it with a smile either."
Two major polls released Wednesday and Thursday show a majority of "likely voters" in Virginia favoring Kaine over Allen.
The candidates will debate twice more before the November election.