Candidates Warm Up Their Zingers Before Debate Doubleheader

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

RICHMOND, Sept. 12 -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore will face Democrat Timothy M. Kaine in the campaign's first televised debate Tuesday, days after a Washington Post poll showed Kilgore in the lead.

The pair will face off at 1 p.m. in a debate sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. At 3 p.m., Kaine will debate Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. (R-Winchester), who is running as an independent, in a separate exchange that will not include Kilgore.

The debates at the Hilton hotel in Tysons Corner are the first major events of the post-Labor Day race to the Nov. 8 finish line. And they come amid signs that rhetoric from all three campaigns is sharpening.

The candidates and their aides predicted that the debates will be filled with pointed exchanges.

"I expect a very aggressive Tim Kaine. I expect a Tim Kaine who remains committed to putting out misleading information," Kilgore said Thursday as he announced a $1.5 million donation to his campaign from the Republican Governors Association.

"He'll be very prepared," Kilgore said. "He always is. He's a very slick debater."

Kaine press secretary Delacey Skinner shot back that her boss is ready for whatever Kilgore has to offer during the debate.

"We expect to see the same, tightly scripted Jerry Kilgore with the same distortions about Tim Kaine's record that he's been spewing all through the race," she said.

Potts joked that he expects to have "a lot of fun" debating Kaine. But at a news conference to unveil proposals for $2 billion in tax increases for transportation, Potts accused both Kaine and Kilgore of ducking responsibility.

"Jerry Kilgore offers denial and delusion," Potts said of the Republican's transportation plan. "Mr. Kaine: Delusion and deceit. That means nothing happens."

Previewing his often fiery language, Potts added: "Do nothing. That's the other two candidates. Zippo. The big goose egg. Nada. Zippo. Nothing. Their offense is worse than the Redskins."

The Kaine-Kilgore debate will be broadcast live by NewsChannel 8, starting at 12:45 p.m. The entire debate will be rebroadcast at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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