“You can’t have a strong economy for women if you take their choices away,” Kaine said, adding that he supported paycheck equity for women and opposed “personhood” state legislation and a bill that would have required women to get an ultrasound before abortions.
Allen said his support of personhood legislation — which would define life as beginning at conception — is an accountability issue: It would be a mechanism for punishing people who attack pregnant women and harm their unborn child.
Both candidates said they supported visa reform, but they split on the issue of allowing children of illegal immigrants to remain in the country while pursuing an education.
“What the president did is he ignored the law, and rather than take cases on an individual basis, he’s put a whole class of people exempt from the law,” Allen said. “That will make it more difficult to get real immigration reform. . . . If you reward illegal behavior, you’ll only get more of it.”
Kaine said he backs the Dream Act and supports stiff financial penalties for illegal immigrants, who could work off their fines and get in line for citizenship.
With the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide whether to allow affirmative action to factor into admission to public colleges and universities, the candidates were asked where they stood on the issue in Virginia.
Allen said he favored “affirmative recruitment,” but not at the expense of denying qualified people an opportunity. Kaine said he hoped the court “would affirm that it is okay for a public institution to try to make sure that their student body looks like the state does.”
In his opening remarks, Kaine voiced his support for public broadcasting, which came under fire during last week’s presidential debate when Republican nominee Mitt Romney signaled that he would support cutting federal funding of public television.
“I’m a huge public broadcasting fan,” Kaine said at the debate, held at WCVE Studios, one of two PBS stations in Richmond. “I pledge tonight not to fire Big Bird or defund public broadcasting.”
The Senate candidates’ final debate is scheduled for Oct. 18 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Ben Pershing and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.