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Allen, Kaine debate in Fairfax
Republican candidate George Allen (right) and Democratic candidate Tim Kaine debate politely Thursday
Evan Vucci/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 9/21/2012
McLEAN--In the third debate of Virginia's U.S. Senate race, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen traded jabs about defense cuts, partisanship and tax policy.
Kaine and Allen were facing off at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce debate in Northern Virginia Thursday in a meeting that was largely civil and broke little new ground on issues.
It began with a question about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comments.
In response to that query from moderator David Gregory of NBC News, Kaine said he "would be open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone."
Kaine later told reporters he was simply indicating an open mind.
"I said sure, I'd be open we can't start with non-negotiables," Kaine said. "I don't think it should be that newsworthy if a senator is willing to consider what a colleague proposes."
Kaine said people at all income levels do pay a variety of taxes, and that many who don't pay a federal income tax still pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than Romney does.
Allen jumped on Kaine's comments when speaking with reporters, saying an openness to raising taxes is "typical of Tim Kaine his solution to everything is raise taxes."
For his part, Allen avoided directly distancing himself or tying himself to Romney's comments about 47 percent of Americans not paying income tax being "victims" and "dependent on government."
"I have my own point of view, and my point of view is that the people of America still believe in the American dream," Allen said, adding that he wants to get more people back to work and lower taxes.
Kaine said he thought Romney's statements were "condescending and divisive."
Kaine focused many of his debate answers on the need for bipartisanship and compromise, saying that Congress is "stopping progress right now" because of lawmakers' unwillingness to work together to find compromises on issues.
He reiterated his own proposal to reduce the federal deficit by letting the Bush tax cuts expire on those earning more than $500,000 a year--a compromise, Kaine says, between Democrats who propose letting the cuts expire on those earning $250,000 or more, and Republicans who want to make the cuts permanent for everyone.