Virginia's U.S. Senate candidates scrambled Monday to rally voters critical to their success as they hit the two-week homestretch of one of the nation's tightest races.
Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine were both wooing the state's 820,000 veterans and their families, one of the nation's largest concentrations of military voters. Kaine has split the support of those voters with Allen, one of the reason Kaine is outpacing President Obama in the battleground state.
Allen met with veterans at an American Legion Post in Fairfax, between a stop at the Jewish Community Relations Council and a meeting with small-business owners in Sterling.
Despite the diversity of his audiences, Allen stuck to the same general campaign themes: the need to head off looming defense cuts and to increase domestic energy production.
"Anyone who drives a car ought to be on our side, especially folks who live out this way," Allen told workers at Fortessa Inc., a tableware manufacturer in Sterling. "In the suburbs and rural areas, a lot of folks drive longer distances to and from work or carrying your kids around."
Kaine spent much of the day in Hampton Roads, traveling in Norfolk with Sen. Jim Webb, a decorated Marine and the Democrat he hopes to succeed. Kaine also courted Filipino American voters in Virginia Beach with Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., at his side.
Kaine on Monday also released new ads ripping Allen's record on women's issues, a voting bloc that is giving Kaine a slight edge over Allen.
"During his previous terms in Congress, George Allen voted against the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives parents time off to care for a newborn or a sick relative," the ad says.
Allen defended his vote against the act, saying it imposed an unnecessary mandate on businesses that would provide such benefits to their employees anyway. But he wouldn't try to repeal it.
"This vote was over 20 years ago," he said. "In the 20 years, it seems like this law has worked very well, and I would not vote to change that law."