RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican former Sen. George Allen is airing a new ad that deftly fosters a false impression that his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, supports potential deep military spending cuts under a debt-reduction compromise.
The ad is rooted in Saturday's debate between the candidates, when Allen attacked Kaine for supporting a bipartisan compromise in August that allowed Congress to increase the nation's debt ceiling.
The deal between House Republicans, the Democratic-controlled Senate and the OK of the White House, came hours before the deadline for raising the amount of money the government can borrow.
As an incentive, the agreement prescribes draconian cuts both parties would find unpalatable — $487 billion to defense over 10 years plus $492 billion in automatic cuts if a bipartisan congressional "super committee" came up with $1.2 trillion in savings. The committee failed.
Like Kaine, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Gov. Bob McDonnell also backed the August compromise that kept the government from defaulting on its debts for the first time and defused a global financial meltdown. Allen opposed the compromise, saying the cuts would not have been deep enough.
At the time the compromise was reached, Kaine called it "far from perfect" but said it temporarily preserved "economic stability by raising the debt ceiling and enacts important spending cuts that will help preserve our nation's and Virginia's credit rating. This is the beginning of a much longer process as we work to rebuild our economy."
Efforts in Congress to unwind last year's deal have also failed as Democrats demand that any solution include higher taxes on upper income households and Republicans reject any call for additional revenue, demanding that the savings come from cuts alone.
Republicans who supported and helped broker the deal last summer have since sought to turn the issue against President Barack Obama, claiming he is willing to decimate the nation's military strength with the automatic spending reductions.
In the weekend debate, Allen tried to graft the national tactic into his neck-and-neck Senate race against Kaine, claiming that Virginia — home to the Pentagon and the world's largest U.S. Navy base in Norfolk — could lose more than 200,000 defense-related jobs.
"George, the deal was the right thing to do — as Eric Cantor said, as Gov. Bob McDonnell said, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said," Kaine replied when Allen made the charge during the debate.
But Kaine was clear in his reply that his endorsement of last August's stopgap did not extend to approving of the super committee's failure or of the continued partisan gridlock between House Republicans and Senate Democrats that jeopardizes a deal by year's end.
"This is a time when we really have to elevate what we do because the challenges are significant," Kaine said in his response. "We need people who will come together and try to find a deal and I believe Congress can still find a deal to avoid the need for cuts that are going to jeopardize our nation's defense."
Allen's 30-second ad, titled "Devastating," debuted Tuesday, entering an existing $800,000 rotation of existing spots in television markets statewide through mid-August, said Dan Allen, a veteran media strategist to George Allen. The men are not related.
The commercial never mentions Kaine's name. It depicts stormy clouds overtaking the U.S. Capitol and cites a study showing disproportionate economic damage to Virginia from the direct loss of military jobs and jobs for defense contractors.
Dan Allen defended the ad by saying that Kaine's solution to avoid the cuts would involve tax increases. Allen is the only candidate, he said, who would condition an agreement solely on cuts. But the ad never stipulates that oblique provision.
An email to supporters and reporters from the campaign, however, is more bare-knuckled.
"Tim Kaine continues to double-down in his support for the deal that has brought us to this point," the email from campaign manager Mike Thomas says. It quotes Kaine's defense of the initial bipartisan agreement but omits the rest of his response calling for the House and Senate to put aside partisan posturing and agree on new savings.
View the ad: http://bit.ly/MFNqi4