Allen, Kaine spar in Northern Virginia over threatened defense cuts

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Tim Kaine and George Allen sparred over threatened military cuts during trips through Northern Virginia Monday, with both candidates for the state's open U.S. Senate seat agreeing that Congress must avoid those cuts but disagreeing on how to accomplish that.

During a visit to Aurora Flight Sciences in Manassas, Kaine called on Congress to nix the looming defense cuts, which promise to hit Virginia especially hard, and replace them by letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for those earning more than $500,000 and eliminating tax breaks for oil companies.

"We can get there in a way that won't hurt the economy and it won't jeopardize defense," Kaine said.

Video from Kaine's event:

The Democratic Senate hopeful enlisted the help of Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., to provide a firsthand account of how Congress enacted a plan to put $500 billion in military spending on the chopping block as a last resort for a deficit reduction plan. The two embarked on a six-stop tour of the Old Dominion on Monday that started in Hampton Roads and ended in Northern Virginia, two regions with strong ties to the Pentagon.

His Republican opponent Allen, talking to a roundtable of defense contractors in Stafford, rejected any tax increases and said he would instead rely on shrinking government and reforming the tax code to make up that revenue. Allen noted that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives moved to reinstate that defense spending and vowed to be their partner in the Senate to help accomplish the GOP agenda.

But when pressed after the event if he would vote for the House bill, Allen said, "I haven't had a chance to look at every detail of it."

Video from Allen's roundtable:

The race between two former Virginia governors to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., is one of the most closely watched races in the country and may determine which party controls the upper chamber on Capitol Hill.

Contractors have publicly cautioned that unless Congress moves to avoid the defense cuts, they will likely have to send layoff notices to workers just before the election, which has made it a critical issue for Kaine and Allen as they attempt to sell themsleves to voters.

Kaine has hoped to link Allen to a dysfunctional Congress that triggered the defense cuts. The Democrat hopes that by appearing with Warner -- whose penchant for working across the aisle appeals to Virginia voters -- he will appear to rise above Washington's bickering.

"We just need more teamwork in the Senate and he and I would be a good team," Kaine said of his friend.

Allen said he has a good relationship with Warner and shrugged off how the popular politician could help his opponent.

"I'm not running against Mark Warner. The competition is between Tim Kaine and myself," Allen said. "I look forward to working with Mark Warner."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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