Senate Debate Takes On Adversarial Tone

Sep 27, 2018

Republican Corey Stewart, left, and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine participate in a Virginia senatorial debate, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at Capital One headquarters, in McLean.
Credit (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

On Capitol Hill, senators are grappling with how to handle allegations of sexual misconduct. But it’s a drama that’s also playing out on the campaign trail.

At a debate Wednesday night organized by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Technology Council,  the tone of candidates Corey Stewart and Tim Kaine turned adversarial and even downright angry.

Republican candidate Stewart says accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are “a bunch of crap," comparing them to “pulling a girl’s pigtails in first grade.” When asked about how he might vote if he were in the Senate, Stewart attacked incumbent Senator Tim Kaine.

"What about the $17 million you paid in hush money to the 268 separate complaints, senator, against you and other members of the United States Congress,” Stewart asked.

Kaine wasn’t about to take that accusation at face value. “You just tried to slip in that there were complaints against me, and that is completely false,” he responded.

“Well how do we know that,” Stewart asked.

“And you talk about this beneath dignity. Oh, so you think you can just make it up without any facts,” Kaine continued.

After the debate was over, Stewart was unable to provide any evidence of any allegation against Kaine. The incumbent Democratic senator, meanwhile, pointed out that he was the one who pressed the Office of Compliance to release records detailing the scope of sexual harassment claims filed against members of Congress.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.