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In last debate for U.S. Senate seat, former governors trade criticisms, disagree greatly
Ex-Gov. Tim Kaine (left) speaks as his GOP rival, former Sen. George Allen, takes notes last night in Blacksburg.
STEVE HELBER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY CHELYEN DAVIS
RICHMOND--U.S. Senate candidates Tim Kaine and George Allen met in their last debate of this campaign Thursday night, an occasionally contentious clash over familiar themes.
The debate was held in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, but broadcast over C-SPAN and Roanoke TV station WSLS, a debate co-sponsor. The Free Lance-Star viewed the debate on C-SPAN.
Their most-heated moments came over questions about how to reduce the U.S. debt and deficit, and the related issue of how to avert looming "sequestration" cuts that will start in January if Congress doesn't act.
Those sequestration cuts have been a frequent bone of contention between the two. They would require billions of dollars, about half of which would come from defense programs.
The cuts were planned--with support of both parties--to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling last year and avoid a default. The cuts were intended as a threat, to prompt lawmakers to craft a different path toward spending cuts, but that has not happened.
Kaine supported the deal, although, like most who voted for it, he says he doesn't want the cuts to actually take place. He proposes letting the Bush-era income-tax cuts expire on those making more than $500,000 a year, as a compromise to partially reduce the debt and deficit and avoid the cuts.
Allen opposed the sequestration deal, and at the debate accused Kaine and Democrats of using defense jobs "as a political bargaining chip to raise taxes."
"You and I are both fathers, and this one is very personal to me," Kaine said. "I have a son who has just started a career in the military. I am not going to do things that will hurt the troops or hurt defense or hurt veterans."
But while the two differ on how to address debt and deficit problems, neither would agree--in response to a moderator's question--to support debt-reduction proposals from the national, bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.
Both said they like some proposals from that group, but not others. Allen said President Barack Obama "walked away from it as if it was a dead animal on the front porch."
TIED TO OBAMA?
Allen also sought to tie Kaine to high-profile policies from the Obama administration, including the cap-and-trade bill to regulate emissions, and the Affordable Care Act, all of which Allen called "job-killing proposals."