Former Virginia governors Timothy M. Kaine and George Allen squared off Thursday in the first televised debate of their closely watched Senate race.

Timothy M. Kaine, left, and George Allen shake hands after the Virginia Bar Association's senatorial debate in Hot Springs, Va., on July 21. (Steve Helber/AP)

The race, which could tip the balance of power in the United States Senate, had been neck-and-neck in earlier polls going back to May 2011.

The two met for an hour-long debate in McLean moderated by “Meet the Press” host David Gregory. The debate, which began at noon at the Capital One Conference Center, was sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and WRC-TV (Channel 4).

It was the second debate since Allen clinched his party’s nomination, but the first to be televised. When they debated in Hot Springs, July, each candidate accused the other of name-calling and partisan squabbling.

Allen and Kaine also squared off in Richmond in December, before Allen had won the GOP nod.

Two more debates are scheduled for October.

Follow earlier tweets below from Post reporter Errin Haines or join the discussion by using the hashtag #vadebate.