BATH COUNTY, Va. — Senator Tim Kaine and Republican Corey Stewart sparred in their first debate Saturday ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Both camps declared victory after a fiery 90-minute debate anchored by Judy Woodruff with “PBS Newshour” and hosted by the Virginia Bar Association at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs.
There were plenty of pointed accusations and personal attacks as the candidates clashed over immigration, health care, reproductive rights and U.S. trade policy.
Stewart repeatedly hit Kaine for siding with national Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer.
On the other hand, Kaine attacked Stewart for saying President Trump “stood up” to Russian President Vladimr Putin during the Helsinki Summit.
“He’s automatically going to vote against anything that the President does… he is an ultra liberal who is controlled by the left wing of his party,” Stewart alleged.
“When Corey got into the race he said it would be ruthless and vicious,” Kaine said. “And if I can translate, that means make it nasty, make it personal or make it up. And sometimes do all three.”
Sen. Kaine is considered a heavy favorite to win re-election this fall. A Quinnipiac University poll released last month gave the Democrat an 18-point advantage over Stewart, the chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
Kaine was the Democratic Party’s 2016 vice-presidential nominee and the former Governor of Virginia. He is seeking his second Senate term.
Stewart has promised a “vicious” campaign against Kaine. His candidacy has been fueled in part by a hardline position on illegal immigration and support for preserving Confederate monuments.
The candidates will take part in two more debates before Election Day.
The next debate will be the Northern Virginia Debate on Sept. 26 at the Capital One campus in McLean.
Then the People’s Debate will take place in Richmond on Tuesday, Oct. 2 from 7 – 8 p.m. You can watch the debate on WTVR CBS 6 and WCVE, a member of the Community Idea Stations.