- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles S. Robb and challenger George F. Allen are calling in the big names to try to stir up key constituencies in the final week of their contest.
President Clinton's trip to the predominantly black Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria on Sunday underscores that. But Mr. Robb also received help from former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, who announced his support on Saturday, and from Sen. Bob Kerrey, Nebraska Democrat, and a handful of retired Marine generals, who used the Iwo Jima Marine Corps War Memorial as the backdrop to announce their support yesterday.
Mr. Allen, meanwhile, campaigned at the West Falls Church Metro station yesterday with Virginia Republicans Rep. Frank R. Wolf and Sen. John W. Warner.
Mr. Robb's interest in stirring the vote in Northern Virginia is understandable.
A Washington Post poll released this weekend showed Mr. Robb tied with Mr. Allen in the region, though most pundits believe Mr. Robb must win the region by a large margin to be re-elected.
His interest in getting black voters out to the polls also is understandable.
"I think the Democrats understand that the black vote is the key to Chuck Robb's possible re-election. No Democrat in the state can win without substantial black vote. Not only a substantial majority, but a good turnout," said Mark Rozell, a professor at Catholic University, adding that Mr. Robb probably needs to attain better than 90 percent support from black voters.
Black voters are widely credited with pushing Mr. Robb to a three-point victory in 1994 over challenger Oliver North.
Among black voters statewide, The Post poll showed Mr. Robb with 82 percent support.
A poll by Virginia Commonwealth University last week indicated the incumbent's support among blacks was soft only 65 percent supported Mr. Robb, 19 percent supported Mr. Allen and 16 percent were undecided.
In his 30-minute speech, Mr. Clinton again credited Mr. Robb for voting against what would be in his political interest in a conservative state like Virginia.
"In so many ways, large and small, Senator Robb tried to do the right thing, even when it was not the popular thing to do," Mr. Clinton said. "I don't know how many times I tried to get him to vote against me. I said, 'You know, Chuck, what are you doing? You're from Virginia and you've got to run again,' and he'd just say, 'It's the right thing.' "
Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for the Allen campaign, said the remarks show Mr. Robb is out of touch with Virginia.
"President Clinton is praising Chuck Robb for voting contrary to the wishes of Virginia," he said. "We think it's great. We wish the president would come back, campaign more, and demonstrate further how far out of touch Chuck Robb is with the views and values of Virginia."
"At least Clinton didn't call us selfish again," said Ed Matricardi, executive director of the state Republican Party, referring to a 1997 rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Donald S. Beyer, where the president denounced those who might vote for Republican James S. Gilmore III and his proposed automobile tax cut.
He said associating Mr. Robb with the president who didn't carry the state in either 1992 or 1996, and continues to poll poorly in Virginia will particularly resonate with centrist, undecided swing voters.
He said that with television and the Associated Press wire, "there's not a place in the state that doesn't know Bill Clinton was here cheerleading for Chuck Robb."
But Mr. Rozell said there's more hay to be made with the issue, and that the Republican Party should advertise the president's visit to downstate voters.
Mr. Robb didn't appear with Mr. Clinton, but his wife, Lynda, did.
With Mrs. Robb scheduled to appear today at a campaign appearance with Maryland's Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, it is obvious the Democrats are sending the heavy hitters to help Mr. Robb.
This weekend, Mr. Robb attended a fund-raiser with actors Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. Mr. Robb's family members, including his mother-in-law, Lady Bird Johnson, have stumped for him.
Polls show Mr. Robb trailing among veterans and active service members, and yesterday Mr. Robb held a news conference with Mr. Kerrey and the retired Marine officers. The veterans praised Mr. Robb for his understanding of military matters and procurement needs.
Mr. Allen is campaigning mainly with fellow Virginia lawmakers like Mr. Warner, the popular senior Republican senator from the state. Mr. Warner also has cut a commercial urging a vote for Mr. Allen.
Yesterday the two, joined by Mr. Wolf, pressed the flesh at West Falls Church Metro stop, where Mr. Wolf and Mr. Warner said Mr. Allen would be a good partner for transportation matters.
Mr. Gilmore, the author of the automobile tax cut Mr. Clinton railed against in 1997, also has campaigned with Mr. Allen.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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