Tim Kaine-Corey Stewart Virginia Senate debate centers on Brett Kavanaugh, sexual misconduct
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and Republican challenger Corey Stewart on Tuesday tangled over the issues of sexual assault and harassment, with Mr. Stewart saying Congress needs to clean up its own act on the issue and Mr. Kaine telling his opponent not to “make stuff up.”
Mr. Kaine said the sexual assault allegations leveled against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, raise “serious questions of character” and that Judge Kavanaugh shouldn’t be elevated to the high court “unless we resolve these significant claims.”
Mr. Stewart, meanwhile, said people have to get to the bottom of sexual harassment claims involving members in the halls of Congress, saying $17 million has been paid out to settle such claims.
Mr. Kaine and Mr. Stewart were squaring off in the third and final scheduled debate of Virginia’s U.S. Senate race in Richmond on Tuesday. The “People’s Debate” was sponsored by AARP Virginia.
“Clean up your own house first - clean up what’s going on in the United States Senate,” Mr. Stewart said. “This is your money - this is $17 million of our money that’s being used to settle these claims.”
Mr. Kaine said that the total encompassed claims against Capitol Hill staff in general and not just members of the House and Senate.
“Corey, don’t make stuff up and don’t pretend,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Stewart’s campaign released a hard-hitting radio ad that played on the same theme.
“While Tim Kaine and the Democrats falsely accuse Judge Kavanaugh over high school rumors, they won’t tell us which of the senators are sexual predators,” Mr. Stewart says in the ad. “Why not, Senator Kaine? What are you hiding? Are you on that list? Isn’t that the standard you’ve applied to Judge Kavanaugh?”
Mr. Kaine said at the debate Tuesday there’s never been such a claim filed against him or anyone in his office.
“You know that,” he told Mr. Stewart.
At a debate in Northern Virginia last week, Mr. Stewart alleged that Congress is working to quash the internal sexual harassment claims and had implied that Mr. Kaine himself could be facing a complaint.
Mr. Kaine also said then it’s “completely false” that there have been such complaints against him.
“How do we know that?” Mr. Stewart replied.
Mr. Kaine, a former Virginia governor, lieutenant governor, and mayor of Richmond, is seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate.
He has held sizable leads over Mr. Stewart in recent public polling on the race, and the latest Real Clear Politics average put him almost 19 points ahead.
The race hasn’t gotten as much attention from national committees and outside groups as some of the Senate races in red states like North Dakota, West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, and Missouri, where Republicans are more bullish on their chances to pick up Democrat-held seats.
Republicans also haven’t won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by 9 points in last year’s governor’s race.
Mr. Stewart came close to defeating Mr. Gillespie in the 2017 GOP gubernatorial contest. He made defending Confederate monuments in the state a key theme in that race, and has continued that defense this year.
Mr. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, has tied himself to Mr. Trump and says he wants to “stir things up” in the U.S. Senate, and has had a penchant for engaging in attention-grabbing stunts.
He waved toilet paper at a press conference outside the state legislature earlier this year to criticize Republicans for being “soft” and “flimsy” for supporting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
He also called for the arrest of Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Ann Kincaid after she had announced the county was ending a partnership with the federal government on an immigration enforcement program.
Mr. Stewart helped shepherd a tough crackdown on illegal immigration in his county in 2007.