- Associated Press - Thursday, September 20, 2012

MCLEAN, Va. (AP) — Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine have avoided any obvious gaffes or stumbles in the third of five debates in Virginia’s pivotal Senate race. But they showcased distinctively different messages.

Kaine called for a thaw in the frigid partisan atmosphere that has largely paralyzed a divided Congress. Allen steered his answer to every question back to the issue of the troubled economy and jobs.

Even questions about women’s rights and gay marriage found Allen answering with allusions to unemployment rates topping 8 percent for nearly four years and a regulatory and tax environment.

Kaine kept going back to Allen’s bare-knuckled partisanship, citing his 1994 exhortation to fellow Republicans to knock Democrats’ soft teeth down their whiny throats.

Thursday’s debate is hosted by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.

Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, center, answers one of moderator David Gregory's questions while, at right, fellow candidate for U.S. Senate George Allen waits for his turn during the first debate for the two Virginia candidates at the Capital One Conference Center in Tysons Corner, Va., on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. This race has been considered one of the most competitive races in the country. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, center, answers one of moderator David Gregory’s ... more >