Kaine vs. Allen: in their own words
It is a race that will be closely watched throughout the country. This afternoon, George Allen and Tim Kaine will face off in their first head to head debate of 2012 U.S. Senate campaign.
The debate will be streamed live on TimesDispatch.com and we will have complete coverage tonight on NBC12 and a complete wrap here on Decision Virginia.
As we prepare for the debate, I thought I’d take a look back and some of the things both candidates have said leading up to today.
Allen & The Tea Party:
This debate has received quite a bit of criticism because the Associated Press and the Capitol Correspondents Association decided against including lesser known primary opponents. The Tea Party plans to protest on behalf of their candidate Jamie Radtke. Tim Donner also put out a statement saying today is a “distressing day”. Allen has worked to fight back claims that he is not in line with the Tea Party. Here is what he told me shortly before he announced his intentions about his conservative credentials.
Kaine & President Obama
The Allen Camp has worked hard to make sure that Governor Kaine is linked to President Obama as often as possible. For his part, Kaine rarely wiggles out of that claim. He is proud of his friendship with the president, but tries to point out areas where they disagree. This is what he told me after the president’s recent visit to the University of Richmond:
And one of the areas where he parts from Obama is on capital gains taxes. Listen to his response on the Obama plan to raise revenue through increases in that area.
Allen & Macaca
Try as he might, Allen cannot escape that ill-fated moment on the campaign trail from 2006. He has repeatedly apologized, but democrats do not seem willing to let it go. Here is how he explained it to me on First at 4:00:
“I thought of it as a nonsense word. If I had known the nickname could be considered a racial slur, I would not have said it,” he wrote in his book ,What Washington Can Learn From The World Of Sports. “I apologized to him and take full responsibility for the remark and its aftermath, which should have been handled much better.”
Meanwhile, Kaine and his team are not willing to let the past be the past. During another First at 4:00 interview Kaine said “We are both going to be judged on what we have done and what we’ve said.. And that is fair.” His quote comes towards the end of the interview:
Uncomfortable moments for Allen & Kaine:
Having interviewed both candidates close to a half a dozen times since they became candidates, we have attempted to pin them down on some issues they weren’t necessarily eager to talk about. For Governor Kaine it came during the battle over the debt ceiling. I gave him the chance to weigh in on President Obama’s role in the fight en-light of a vote he took against the debt ceiling when he was Senator. Kaine chose to punt on the question.. telling me he “wasn’t a student of that vote.”
On the other side of the coin, Allen bobbed and weaved for more than 8 minutes when I tried to pin him down on whether he would vote “yes” or “no” on Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial budget plan. He said to me “go ahead and ask the democrat’s question”
One thing is clear, these two men are political titans of the highest caliber. These interviews show them at their best, staying on message and driving home their point.
This afternoon will be fun.