Image: George Allen, James Webb
Steve Helber  /  AP
Sen. George Allen, left, and Democratic challenger James Webb greet each other on Sept. 18 at an earlier debate.
updated 10/9/2006 10:21:08 PM ET 2006-10-10T02:21:08

Republican Sen. George Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb sparred over familiar issues from the Iraq war to taxes Monday night in the final televised debate in Virginia’s tight, closely watched U.S. Senate race.

The race’s outcome could help determine which party controls the Senate.

The debate also touched on allegations that Allen used racial slurs in the past and on a 1979 magazine article in which Webb, a former Navy secretary under President Reagan, argued that women are not fit to command men in battle.

The most heated exchange centered on taxes in which candidates were allowed to ask each other questions.

Allen said he has supported tax cuts that Webb has criticized. Webb said tax cuts during a time of increased federal spending and a growing deficit are unwise.

“You can’t keep spending like this without increasing revenues,” Webb said.

Allen asked Webb if he knew “how many Virginians have benefited from the tax relief you criticize.”

Both candidates began talking at the same time, making it difficult to understand either, before Allen ended the exchange by saying: “The answer is 3 million Virginians.”

On foreign policy, Webb, a decorated combat veteran, called for a “diplomatic solution” to the war in Iraq while Allen stuck by his support of President Bush’s strategy.

Allen dismissed as “baseless allegations” claims by some of his former University of Virginia football teammates that in the 1970s he freely used an epithet to describe black people. He urged people to look at his record on race, including his efforts to help historically black colleges and universities.

Webb said Allen’s use of the word “macaca,” an obscure racial slur, to single out a Webb campaign volunteer of Indian descent amounted to “unnecessary bullying.”

Asked about his 1979 Washingtonian magazine article, “Women Can’t Fight,” Webb said he is now comfortable with the role of women in the military.

Allen touted his own record of appointing women to Cabinet positions when he was Virginia’s governor from 1993-1997 and his efforts to get more women interested in science and engineering.

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