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Virginia Politics
Posted at 01:39 PM ET, 12/08/2011

Kaine: Macaca still matters


Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, left, and former Gov. and Sen. George Allen greet each other after the debate. (By Steve Helber - Associated Press)
Does “macaca” still matter?

Democrat Timothy M. Kaine was asked that in Wednesday’s debate with Republican George Allen, who lobbed the racial slur at an Indian American working for his rival in the 2006 U.S. Senate race.

“Would you say it’s time to move past the event or bring it up six years later?” said a reporter posing questions to the two former Virginia governors, who are running for the seat held by retiring Sen. James Webb (D).

Kaine said he gave Allen credit for apologizing, something he has done repeatedly. But Kaine also said the apology has fallen short.

“The apology was, ‘Of course if I knew that the words were offensive, I wouldn’t have said them,’ ” Kaine said. “When he singled out a young man in this crowd and looked at him and said, ‘Welcome to Virginia; welcome to America,’ There was no mistake about what those words meant. There was no mistake. The implication was that this young student was somehow less of a Virginian or less of an American than George or than you and me. ...

“It’s part of the divisive politics that we’ve got to put behind us in this country. And it wasn’t a unique incident. From looking at Democrats and saying, ‘The job of our party was to knock their soft teeth down their whiny throats,’ from calling legislators ‘dinosaurs’ or ‘monarchical elitists,’ which he did, or referring to federal employees as he did earlier [in the debate] as ‘sanctimonious social engineers,’ there’s a name-calling and division and bullying aspect to this which is in very long supply right now in Washington. It’s not who Virginia is. And I don’t know that there’s anybody in this room who thinks that the way to fix the dysfunction in Congress is to put more people in who want to do name-calling, who want to divide people against one another.”

Allen’s response in the debate was to apologize, again, and then try to change the subject.

“It was a mistake,” he said. “I never should have singled out that young man. He was simply doing his job. And I apologized for it. It was a mistake and it diverted our campaign away from the issues that families care about.”

From there, Allen moved quickly to those issues, including gas prices, cap-and-trade plans and coal. He even managed to work in a reference to the 143-pound monster catfish reeled in at a Virginia reservoir last summer.

Okay, readers: What do you care about in this race? Macaca? Catfish? The economy? Something else? Please chime in.

By  |  01:39 PM ET, 12/08/2011

 
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