Virginia's hotly contested U.S. Senate race rolled through the D.C. region Tuesday with Democrat Tim Kaine reaching out to the female voters who could swing the critical suburban vote and Republican George Allen zeroing in on the defense spending that fuels the region's economy.
Both candidates were doubling down on issues they believe will drive Northern Virginians to the polls in three weeks.
Kaine ripped Allen and Republicans for supporting abortion restrictions that he said demonstrate a lack of respect for women. He charged that Allen would help congressional Republicans outlaw abortion. Kaine leads among women and is betting that the gender gap could prove decisive.
"The women's vote is going to be very, very critical in this election," Kaine said. "The two big themes are: What do women voters do and do the super-PACs make a difference? After it's all said and done, there will be a lot of people looking at that."
Video from Kaine's event:
Polls show Kaine with an edge in Northern Virginia suburbs immediately outside Washington and Allen leading in the exurbs.
Allen on Tuesday focused on $500 million in looming military cuts, which could devastate a Northern Virginia economy heavily dependent on Pentagon spending. Allen met in Arlington with defense industry representatives concerned about U.S. corporate tax rates and the uncertainty a politically polarized Congress is creating on budget matters, particularly at the Pentagon.
Video from Allen's event:
Allen has repeatedly criticized Kaine for supporting a debt ceiling deal struck last year by Congress and the White House that would impose $1 trillion in budget cuts unless the two sides can work out a new budget deal before year's end.
"This is affecting a lot of good-paying jobs around here in Northern Virginia," Allen said. "I don't think most men or women think it's the right thing to do, not with the potential of devastating a lot of jobs."
Kaine and Allen meet for their third and final televised debate Thursday in Blacksburg.