Kaine, Allen spar in first televised debate of Senate campaign - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Kaine, Allen spar in first televised debate of Senate campaign

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It doesn't get any bigger than this. Virginia's race for the U.S. Senate is one of the most watched in the country.

Thursday, two commonwealth political titans, George Allen and Tim Kaine, met in their first televised debate. The race was on TV, but only in the Washington, D.C. metro area and in the middle of the day, so the vast majority of likely voters didn't see what happened.

Instead they will be left with the lingering sound bites, and Tim Kaine gave one that republicans are already pouncing on.

It was a debate filled with plenty of substance. Allen and Kaine giving their take on things like defense cuts.

"He (Allen) is on more sides of this than a Rubix Cube," said Kaine while discussing Allen's position on the congressional showdown over the sequestration budget.

On foreign policy, Allen was critical of the Obama administration and talked tough on the situation in the Middle East.

"The biggest threat I think is Iran," Allen said. "If Iran gets nuclear weapons that needs to be prevented."

But it was a comment Kaine made on taxes inside that Capital One building in McLean that Allen was quick to pounce on afterward. Here is an exact transcript:

(Moderator David) GREGORY: Do you believe that everyone in Virginia should pay something in federal income tax?

KAINE: Well, everyone pays taxes, I mean, the statistics that have come out..

GREGORY: I'm asking about federal income taxes.

KAINE: I would be open to a proposal that would have some minimum tax level for everyone.

Kaine made the point after a lengthy discussion born out of Mitt Romney's comments about 47 percent of Americans not paying federal income tax. Allen wasn't surprised.

"It is typical of Tim Kaine," Allen said. "As I mentioned his record is one of always looking to raise taxes."

Kaine argued that he wasn't calling for a minimum across the board tax, but rather showing that he is open to any suggestions.

"I don't think it should be that newsworthy that a Senator would consider what a colleague proposes," Kaine said with a chuckle.

A characteristic the democrat believes is lacking in his opponent.

"We need more bridge builders," Kaine said during the debate. "We need more people who know how to listen and find common ground."

Republicans are already attacking Kaine's tax comment. They quickly sent out a fundraising e-mail. TV ads are probably not far behind.

If you are interested in more than just the quick sound bite of Governor Kaine's tax remark, we have posted his entire explanation about his comments during the post debate press conference on Decision Virginia.

There is also an extended clip from Governor Allen's post-debate remarks as well.

Kaine and Allen will participate in two more debates. Both are scheduled to be conducted in front of live, statewide television audiences.

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