NRL News

Allen, Kaine go toe-to-toe in first Senate Debate

by | Dec 9, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-Life George Allen (left) and Pro-abortion Tim Kaine

I live in Virginia, so even if the upcoming senatorial election did not pit a pro-lifer versus a pro-abortionist and key to control of the Senate, I’d be fascinated by what promises to be a battle for the ages between pro-life Republican George Allen and pro-abortion Democrat Tim Kaine. Last night’s debate, held in Richmond, was the first between the two former governors (Allen from 1994-1998 and Kaine 2006-10), and it was everything you could have expected.

For those who might not remember Allen was also a United States Senator from the Commonwealth from 2000-2006. During his term there was more than a little presidential talk.

However a careless remark, for which he has apologized profusely and repeatedly, derailed his bid for re-election. (Not surprisingly Kaine recycled the controversy in last night’s debate at the Associated Press Day at the Capitol, an annual event sponsored by the Virginia Associated Managing Editors and the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association). Almost as surprising as Allen’s re-election defeat is that the man who defeated him, pro-abortion Sen.Jim Webb, is stepping down after one term.

There’s been a lot of speculation whether Kaine, who doubled as chair of the Democratic National Committee his last year as governor, would distance himself from Obama, who recruited him to run against Allen. Obama carried Virginia in 2008 but his approval ratings were at 45% (with 52% disapproving) in an October Quinnipiac University poll.

Indeed, Mark Rozell, a George Mason University political scientist, told NPR, “That will be one of the challenges for Tim Kaine, his very close association with a president who right now has relatively low approval ratings during a period of economic anxiety in the country. Most Democrats who have run successfully in Virginia have run as moderate conservatives and they have separated themselves very clearly from the national Democratic Party. Tim Kaine really can’t do that.”

But Kaine took the opposite tack, tying himself (and his political fortunes) to Obama. Asked about repealing ObamaCare, for example, Kaine said, “I’d be glad to work on efforts to make it better, but I’m gonna vote against any repeal bill.” Allen said he would definitely vote to repeal the law, challenges to which the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear next year.

Polls show the two men in a statistical dead-heat.  In 2012 there are 23 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent Senate seats up versus 10 Republican seats.  Republicans need to make a net gain of four seats to assume control of the Senate.

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Categories: Politics