- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2000

Virginia Sen. Charles S. Robb made an appearance with President Clinton at the White House yesterday as they and other Democratic leaders rallied for their school-modernization and class-size-reduction proposals.
At yesterday's event, Democrats called on Republicans to appropriate money to reduce class sizes and to support a bill Mr. Robb sponsored that would allow several financing mechanisms to get schools built or modernized faster.
The money for reduced class sizes has materialized the last two years and may appear again, but the school-modernization bill is stuck in committee.
Democrats charged Republicans were being obstructionist on a problem that needs attention now.
"We know that a baby boom is coming. The last time that we had an all-out national effort, with leadership on a national level, to address this situation was back in the Eisenhower administration. We now have a president and leaders from the Democratic side, at least in Congress, who want to make certain that we're prepared to meet this challenge when it comes," Mr. Robb said.
Mr. Clinton offered particular praise for Mr. Robb the two were governors at the same time as a leader in education.
"We wanted Senator Robb to speak because he has been a leader in the school-construction and class-size initiative, but also because he's a former governor who, while he served, clearly had one of the finest records in America in education," Mr. Clinton said.
The campaign of Mr. Robb's Republican challenger, George F. Allen, argues that many of the proposals included in Mr. Robb's bill, such as public-private partnerships, Mr. Allen also touts. And they say Mr. Robb has had 12 years to get those bill passed.
"It has taken Chuck Robb 12 years to discover how to be a U.S. senator. Here we are a month from this election, and it is only now that he has decided to focus on education," said Tim Murtaugh, Mr. Allen's campaign spokesman.
A poll published yesterday by the Richmond Times-Dispatch shows Mr. Allen, with 45 percent support, leading Mr. Robb by 3 percentage points. But that was within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.
That's a tighter race than previous polls, which have shown Mr. Allen with a lead between 5 and 10 points.
The poll found education still the leading concern among voters, but not a dominant one.
Still, Mr. Robb has plugged away at the issue for the past two weeks, claiming he is the education candidate and criticizing Mr. Allen's proposal for a tax credit for families who spend money on education supplies.
Meanwhile, a business group criticized Mr. Robb as not friendly toward small business and promised to counteract the special interests that have weighed in on behalf of Mr. Robb in his Senate race.
Mr. Allen yesterday received the support of the National Federation of Independent Business, which issued a report card touting Mr. Allen's friendly record toward small business. The federation scored Mr. Allen 100 percent on key votes for small business, while Mr. Robb scored 33 percent.
The federation president, Jack Faris, promised to try to counter the groups like the Sierra Club and the Virginia Education Association, which have been running advertisements and sending out mailings attacking Mr. Allen. The federation will send the report card to its 10,000 members in Virginia, as well as try to communicate with the rest of the 161,000 small-business owners in the state.
This article is based in part on Federal Transcript Services.

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