Tim Kaine and George Allen have already participated in three debates to this point in their campaign, but Monday night's was perhaps the most important. It was the first televised to a live statewide audience.
The debate turned out to be a largely uneventful exchange between Allen and Kaine. Both stuck to their campaign strategies and that left us with very little excitement.
It was a night filled with plenty of what we have come to expect in the race for U.S. Senate.
Allen attacking Kaine for agreeing to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee:
"You could've told the president that people are hurting in Virginia and you need to give all your attention to the people of Virginia," Allen said.
Kaine pointing out that Allen voted several times to raise his own pay when in the Senate.
"He was repeatedly voting to raise his own pay as if that somehow merited a pay increase."
Those attacks, while perhaps damaging, are nothing new from either side. It was part of a debate that was slow to get going.
At several points both sides complained about the amount of time given to refute their opponent's claims.
"Isn't there a 60 second rebuttal?" Kaine asked moderator Bob Holsworth at one point. To which Holsworth answered flatly, "No there is not." Allen later chimed in, "I learned that after the first one Tim".
Holsworth later said he was enforcing the rules given to him by the debate's organizers.
But the difficulty finding in a flow did not stop either side drawing distinctions on issues like abortion, Social Security, Medicare and this exchange on taxes.
"To fix it you have to fix it on both sides of the balance sheet," said Kaine. "You have to make cuts. I believe that we should be looking to make cuts in the federal budget of 2 or 3 dollars in cuts for every dollar in revenue."
Allen argued for an entirely new tax plan.
"We also need comprehensive tax reform," said Allen. "I think we ought to have a tax code that is more simple more fair and more competitive."
In the end both candidate emerged without any major gaffes, but not scoring any major points either.
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