Two former governors traded blame for the failing economy and disputed at what point contraception occurs during the first debate of Virginia's nationally prominent 2012 U.S. Senate race.

Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine faced off Wednesday at the Associated Press Day at the Capitol, a daylong series of forums on Virginia politics and government for journalists. The debate was hosted by the Virginia Associated Press Managing Editors, the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association
and the Virginia Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists.

In a 90-minute debate that had several testy moments, Kaine accused Allen of being a bully for comments made to a rival campaign staffer in 2006 and Allen labeled Kaine as a yes-man for President Obama who is bent on raising taxes.


Both candidates were asked about health care reform.

Kaine said he will work to make it better, but he will vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Allen said we don't need a government takeover of health care, and that it should be repealed and replaced.


Another panelist asked if the state should pass a law that defines life as starting at conception. Kaine said that would criminalize contraception.

Allen said that contraceptive by definition means no conception. He also said that the government shouldn't pay for elective abortions.


Kaine was asked why he approved Jens Soering's transfer back to Germany.

"My attitude was good riddance," Kaine said.

Kaine also said it was a chance to have Soering locked up and have Germany pay for it.

Allen said that when Virginia judges and jurors sentence someone, they should serve the sentence.

Allen said he and Kaine have a fundamental difference of opinion on how they deal with violent criminals.


On the issue of third-party groups donating to the campaign, Allen says he's not going to tell someone that they shouldn't have their first amendment rights.

Kaine says that if he and Allen could make an agreement where third-party money would not be part of the race, he would agree to it tomorrow.


Kaine says he took the job of DNC chairman to serve President Obama.

He says he was proud of his time in that post, including banning smoking in restaurants and bars.

Allen says that Kaine supported the $800 billion stimulus bill, and jobs never materialized. He also says Kaine aligned himself with President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.