The Kaine campaign has done a good job of collecting all the reviews of former Senator George F. Allen's performance in his first debate against Tim Kaine in the battle for Jim Webb's U.S. Senate seat, so I'm taking the liberty of simply copying the entire press release--with links--below. The most charitable thing that can be said about Allen is that he is terribly rusty and out of practice. The most hopeful thing for Republicans to focus on is that the election is still nearly eleven months away, so perhaps there is time for Allen to get his groove back.
But the reality is that George F. Allen is a bully who tends to cave when someone challenges him. Jim Webb challenged him in 2006, and Tim Kaine is going to challenge Allen every minute of every day. Allen can't intimidate Tim Kaine. And as for finding his groove, well, George F. Allen has been active in politics as a candidate since 1979. If he hasn't figured out how to debate effectively by now then it may be a matter of lack of talent rather than lack of practice.
KAINE WINS FIRST DEBATE BY FOCUSING ON RESULTS,HOLDING ALLEN ACCOUNTABLE FOR RECORD
Richmond, VA -The reviews are in and it's clear that Tim Kaine won his first debate with former Senator George Allen by emphasizing his approach to developing a 21st century economy, his proven record of fiscal responsibility and his ability to bridge political divides by seeking common ground. He also held Allen accountable for repeatedly employing rhetoric that does not match his record. In contrast, Allen’s performance was full of half-hearted defenses of his big spending record and a string of partisan barbs that show he is out of step on the issues that matter to Virginia families and businesses. But, you don't have to take our word for it. Read Politico's analysis declaring "Kaine emerged the victor.”
Please see below for key coverage and analysis from Wednesday's debate.
Kaine won the debate by emphasizing his proven record of fiscal responsibility and seeking common ground:
“The first impression I had after the 90-minute sparring session between Tim Kaine and George Allen in Richmond on Wednesday was that Kaine emerged the victor.” [Politico, 12/8/11]
“Kaine is a more disciplined and pointed debater, relentlessly returning to two core arguments: 1) Allen has little fiscal credibility to launch critiques on the Obama agenda because of his own voting record. 2)Allen is more partisan and represents the politics of division, whereas Kaine represents balance who will play well with others.” [Politico, 12/8/11]
“[Kaine] stressed the need to “win the talent war”by investing in education and immigration reform among other measures.” [Richmond Times Dispatch, 12/7/11]
“Kaine… expressed a passion for developing more alternative energy initiatives which is also a lucrative industry.” [Danville Register & Bee, 12/7/11]
“Kaine (a former governor and DNC chairman) pitched himself as a moderate political leader, mentioning frequently that he cut state spending by $5 billion during his time as governor, while simultaneously making investments in infrastructure and human development.” [Talking Points Memo,12/7/11]
“After Allen explained his rationale behind proposing a voluntary flat tax as an alternative to the “complicated, convoluted and costly” current structure, Kaine faulted Allen for his “equally complicated” answer. Kaine’s response was sharper. He said he agreed with the concept of tax simplification and quickly pivoted back to Allen’s record, calling it a roadblock to reform.” [Politico, 12/7/11]
“Discussing Mr. Kaine’s performance in the debate, Mr. [Bob] Holsworth said one side of the Democrat’s political approach is the “bridge-builder.” [Washington Times, 12/7/11]
“Kaine opened saying the atmosphere in Washington, with its partisan bickering and ideological entrenchment, needed to change and lawmakers must work together to solve the country's problems. "As a U.S. senator, I don't care whether the group of bipartisan senators is a gang of 14, six or one, I'm going to be with them putting the nation first," Kaine said.” [Daily Press, 12/7/11]
"Kaine, meanwhile, went hard on offense against Allen's record as senator, faulting him and other Senate Republicans for putting policies in place that created the economic conditions that the Obama administration had to deal with when Obama took office." [Hotline On Call, 12/7/11]
Allen admitted responsibility for Congress' spending binge, showed his colors as a “do one thing, say another” politician, and gave voters no reason to elect him to a second term in the U.S. Senate.
"On the other hand, Allen — who had a penchant for rambling through answers, which resulted in less effective attacks — failed to issue an equally compelling rebuttal defending his own tenure in the Senate. In fact at one point, he offered a glaring concession during a back and forth. “When Tim talks about spending in the years I was in the Senate, yeah, it was a problem in those years." [Politico,12/8/11]
"Allen had more stumbles… He dodged a direct answer when Kaine asked him why he’d voted to increase his own pay, failed to provide the rate for his proposed national flat tax and fumbled through an explanation of how his “personhood amendment” — which would define life as beginning at conception — would not ban such contraceptives as the morning-after pill.” [The Hill, 12/7/11]
“Kaine repeatedly chastised Allen for supporting increased spending during his one term in the Senate, which ended in 2006 when he lost to now-Sen. Jim Webb (D), who is retiring.” [Roll Call, 12/7/11]
"Kaine says the national debt increased by $16,000 every second Allen served in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2007. The actual number, from the day Allen entered the Senate to the day he left, is $15,555.38 per second. Kaine reasonably rounded up. Allen voted for budgets that increased the debt by $16,896.68 a second. We rate Kaine’s statement True." [Politifact Virginia, 12/8/11]
"Mr. Allen acknowledged that Republicans under former President George W. Bush had contributed to the nation’s fiscal woes. “Spending was bad previously, there’s no doubt about it,” Mr. Allen said,” [Washington Times, 12/8/11]
"And that’s assuming the Republican nominee will be George Allen, former occupant of the seat and one of several Republicans vying for the nomination. Allen’s come under fire from several tea party-affiliated candidates as being part of the culture of corruption in Washington…” [News Advance,12/9/11]
"A member of the U.S. Senate for six years, Allen voted for four hikes in the federal debt ceiling, for the No Child Left Behind Act (which tea partiers cite as an unwarranted intrusion into local education), for three congressional pay hikes and the costly Medicare prescription drug benefit." [News Advance,12/9/11]
"And tellingly, Republican candidate Tim Donner sent out a news release touting those very hits against Allen that Kaine landed as evidence of Allen’s unfitness for the nomination. Allen, Donner and Jamie Radtke (another tea party activist running for the nomination) have argued, is just another co-opted Washington politician who’s part of the problem, not the solution." [News Advance, 12/9/11]
"Republicans, moreso than Democrats, should be worried that Allen could emerge a weakened foe for Kaine in a year that control of the U.S. Senate could well hinge on Virginia." [News Advance, 12/9/11]
“There was one major gaffe, in which Allen seemed not to understand neither how birth control pills work nor the full impact of a “personhood amendment” he is promoting… Kaine set him straight…” [Washington Post, 12/7/11]
“Allen had a fumble on some basic science.” [Talking Points Memo, 12/7/11]
“Following an answer to a question about his support for a fair tax in which Allen rambled some, Kaine said that Allen's answer "was equally complicated" as the tax code and that Allen's reluctance to pin himself to an exact percentage was "instructive."” [Roll Call, 12/7/11]