BY WESLEY P. HESTER
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Timothy M. Kaine’s campaign pushed back again Thursday against Republican rival George Allen’s attempts to link Kaine to looming military defense cuts.
The issue in question is the sequestration created by the failure of a so-called congressional super-committee born out of last year’s bipartisan debt deal. The sequestration, set to take effect at the end of this year, could slash defense by $500 billion or more.
Kaine and Allen first clashed over the matter at last weekend’s debate, with Allen accusing Kaine of creating the issue by supporting the debt deal. While Allen has consistently opposed the deal, Kaine noted that multiple Republicans supported it, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th, and Gov. Bob McDonnell.
House Republicans earlier this year attempted to replace the deep military cuts with reductions to social programs, but the measure went nowhere in the U.S. Senate.
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, three veterans – Del. Robert H. Brink, D-Arlington, a Courtney Lynch, a former rival of Kaine’s for the Democratic nomination, and Terron Sims — defended the candidate and attacked Allen.
“Allen’s assertion that Tim Kaine has been anything but a strong advocate for military families, our service men and women, and Virginia’s military instillations is baseless,” said Terron Sims, a U.S. Army veteran and VETPAC board member.
“It is important to note there’s only one candidate in this race who has voted against funding for troops, and that’s George Allen,” he said.
Sims accused Allen of voting “against funding for the military on multiple occasions,” mentioning safety equipment for combat troops and tax relief for returning service members.
The accusations are similar to one from an Allen attack ad in 2006 that was debunked by FactCheck.org.
The fact check noted: “A new ad claims Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia ‘voted against giving our troops’ modern body armor. He did no such thing. The ad cites a vote on an appropriations amendment that had nothing whatever to do with body armor.”
Asked for comment, the Allen campaign passed along quotes from veterans who support Allen.
“Tim Kaine is the only candidate in this race who supported the deal last summer that has put over 200,000 Virginia jobs at risk and would severely harm our military with $500 billion in defense cuts,” said Mike Harris, a past national voce-commander of the American Legion and U.S. Air Force veteran.
“George Allen has a strong record of being a committed partner for our armed forces and their families – he fought to increase the death benefit for families of fallen soldiers from $12,000 to $100,000; increased education benefits for those serving; and has continually fought to stop massive cuts to Tricare,” he added.