WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Democratic Senator Tim Kaine is entering the ring with Republican challenger Corey Stewart. Our Washington Correspondent Alana Austin interviewed the candidates following Tuesday’s primary, and they’re already trading barbs.
With Tuesday’s victory, Corey Stewart says he will wage a 'vicious' and 'ruthless' campaign on incumbent, Senator Tim Kaine’s record. Kaine says this is bullying rhetoric but he isn't backing off his criticism of his opponent.
The underdog in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race promises such a fight as the GOP looks to gain more power in that chamber. Hours after the dust settled in the Republican primary -- the president declared his support for his party’s nominee.
Stewart won a narrow victory over his GOP competition Tuesday night, and faces an even tougher general election race against Kaine, who is seeking a second term.
Stewart casts himself as a fierce Trump loyalist.
“I’m going to be rolling out that red carpet personally for President Trump. We need him in Virginia. He’s got a big and growing base in the commonwealth. We need him over in the commonwealth to help win this election.”
Kaine ran against Trump as Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential pick in 2016. His communications director calls Kaine an 'imitator' and says they both fan the flames of white supremacists. When asked what he makes of this comment, Kaine replied, “I don’t know what Corey actually believes but he likes to stoke this and people who stoke fear, division, bigotry to try to get a vote or something, that is not what we ought to see from our leaders," said Kaine.
“Virginians will have a choice between ruthless and vicious and an upbeat problem-solver.”
Earlier Tuesday, along with congratulating Stewart for his win, Trump called Kaine a ‘total stiff’, weak on immigration and accused him of being eager to raise taxes.
The non-partisan Cook Political Report says this race is solidly in the Democrats’ favor. It is Kaine's first re-election bid in the Senate.
Stewart - a conservative fire-brand - made supporting Confederate monuments a cornerstone of his past unsuccessful bid at being Virginia Governor.
Kaine criticizes Stewart’s past association to Jason Kessler – the man who orchestrated last year’s deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville - and for his since-retracted praise of Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin Congressional candidate.
Stewart has denounced any ties to racism or hateful views.
“Corey has this habit of appearing with really dangerous people," said Kaine.
“It’s a race between the candidates but it’s also a race about who Virginia is.”
But Stewart says those comments go too far and he simply supports Virginia’s historical monuments. He says Tuesday he will continue fighting to protect these landmarks.
Overall Stewart argues Kaine is to the left of Virginians on many issues like immigration, the economy, and abortion.
“That’s the only thing he has. The reason he’s talking about all this bogus stuff is because he knows he has a terrible record," said Stewart."
“Tim Kaine - the fact that the guy is a total loser he hasn’t done anything for Virginia or Virginians.”
On critiques that Kaine has moved to the left since leaving the Governor's mansion, he said, "Well the folks who say that I think tend to be I think are talking point people for the Republican Party."
"Everything I do in the Senate is about listening to Virginians and either solving a problem or taking their great ingenuity and creativity and trying to do more of that at the national level," said Kaine.
Kaine says he's proud of the work his office has done to support military families, promote the expansion of Medicaid and enhance access to quality education. He says Stewart would instead be in favor of cutting important resources.
Stewart says if he’s elected, he will bring back manufacturing jobs, help deport illegal immigrants linked to violent crime and support other elements of the President’s agenda.
Stewart serves as the chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. Kaine is a former Va. governor, lieutenant governor and Richmond mayor.
Both men are practicing Catholics but Stewart criticizes his opponent for holding an A rating in Planned Parenthood's Congressional scorecard. "It's really disgusting to me...he is for abortion up through the ninth month of pregnancy."
In the past, Kaine has said he believes women deserve access to safe options in making their health care decisions.
The general election between Kaine and Stewart is set for November 6th.