By Jeb Inge -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen both agree on the biggest problem facing the nation: a $16-trillion deficit.
They do not agree on much else.
The two Senate candidates and former governors sought to highlight their differences at the 2012 Hob Nob in the Valley held at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown on Friday.
The Hob Nob, hosted by the Top of Virginia Chamber of Commerce, boasted a turnout of around 400, and featured politicians on the national, state and local levels. In addition to U.S. Senate candidates, eventgoers were able to speak with candidates for Virginia's 10th Congressional District, and candidates for multiple municipal seats throughout the region.
Allen, who along with Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won Friday's straw poll, called for an increase in American jobs and decrease in government programs.
One such program Allen sees as a problem is the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare."
"I've talked to several people with the hospitals here ... and they're all very negative," Allen said in an interview. "I talked to the chairman of a board of a community hospital down Interstate 81 and they said 'Obamacare is going to put these community hospitals out of business.'"
He later told the crowd, "I think the health care decisions should be made by doctors and patients."
Allen also cited high gasoline prices, a sluggish economy, and bank regulations as problems slowing America's economic recovery.
Small businesses were a focal point for Allen, who echoed the "we built it" sentiment voiced at the Republican convention in Tampa last week.
"I ask so many people, 'What's your business?' and I say, 'Did you build that business, did you start it? Yeah. Did you start it.' These are the job creators, a lot of small business owners ... they have a lot of innovation."
The "we built it" mantra being used by Republicans is in response to President Obama saying at a July rally in Roanoke, "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that."
Allen received the biggest response from the crowd when he made a similar "we built it" reference during his speech.
Tim Kaine faced a Hob Nob crowd largely sporting Frank Wolf and George Allen stickers, but still calls the event one of his favorites.
"In a statewide race, a vote in a red part of the state is the same as a vote in Arlington, so this is a great place to meet people."
Speaking to the crowd, Kaine highlighted the need for an investment in infrastructure, addressing the inequalities facing small businesses, and an increased emphasis on eduction.
He also spoke of the need for compromise in Washington.
"You don't have to agree on everything. But if you stay friends, you can disagree today, and find something else to agree on tomorrow."
Part of Kaine's plan for reducing the deficit includes allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire for those making more than $500,000.
Kaine sees $500,000 as an achievable tax cut ceiling.
Democrats, including President Obama, have largely called for an expiration of tax cuts for those making more than $250,000.
"They know there's zero chance of the House doing that. The House says 'make all the tax cuts permanent' and they know there's zero chance of the Senate doing that.
Allowing certain tax cuts to expire is part of Kaine's belief in the need for government revenue in addition to a restriction of government spending,
According to Kaine, deficit reduction is only possible through a combination of tax cuts and revenue generation.
"I look in the mirror and wish I was thinner, but I never wish I was weaker," he said.
"There are three things Virginians care about: how do we accelerate the economy; how do we fix the budget; and how do we better work together," he said. "Eighteen years in public life have taught me how to do those things."
A Rasmussen poll conducted Aug. 23 found Kaine and Allen tied at 45 percent of the vote. The winner will replace outgoing Sen. Jim Webb.
Follow Jeb Inge's state politics coverage at www.nvdaily.com/vip and follow him on twitter @nvd_vapolitics