- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2006

Democrat James H. Webb Jr. yesterday branded Sen. George Allen’s campaign manager as a Karl Rove understudy, after he criticized Mr. Webb’s opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment banning flag desecration.

Mr. Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, pointed out that Mr. Webb, a Republican-turned-Democrat and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, was siding with Washington Democrats who helped him win the party’s nomination to challenge Mr. Allen this fall.

Yesterday, Mr. Webb, who held a press conference with former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner in Alexandria, addressed the comments again.

“I’ve not been surprised, but I’m really disappointed in the way that the campaign has been begun by Wadhams,” Mr. Webb told reporters. “My views on the flag-burning amendment have been the same since I was in law school. … To make implications otherwise, I don’t think was right.”

“It’s not worth it to me to get a seat in the United States Senate if it means I have to change who I am, and I think Allen’s people know that,” Mr. Webb said. “This is classic Rovian strategy. The Karl Rove strategy is to take your greatest strength and turn it into your weakness, and my strength has been my independence.”

Mr. Webb faces Mr. Allen, who he supported in 2000, and independent Green Party candidate Gail Parker in November. Mr. Allen also is said to be exploring a presidential run in 2008.

The feud began after Mr. Webb voiced opposition to the amendment, which would have banned the desecration of the American flag. The amendment was defeated earlier this week.

In response, Mr. Wadhams issued a statement saying, “Now that we know that James H. Webb Jr. is following [Democratic Sen. John] Kerry, [Sen. Edward M.] Kennedy and [Sen. Charles E.] Schumer in opposing the Flag Protection Amendment, maybe he will finally take a position on other ‘real issues’ such as immediate withdrawal from Iraq and immigration.”

Mr. Webb’s spokesman, Steve Jarding, called Mr. Wadhams’ statement an attack on Mr. Webb’s patriotism and demanded an apology.

“George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb’s position,” Mr. Jarding said in a press release. “Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen chose to cut and run. … While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.’s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedoms in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada. People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield.”

Mr. Wadhams then responded: “So, now we know whenever we publicly ask Webb to take a position on an issue that is being debated and voted on in the U.S. Senate, we will be accused of ‘attacking Webb’s patriotism .’”

Mr. Webb said yesterday that Mr. Wadhams “studied under” Mr. Rove.

“I think it is very clear what he was doing. I don’t think I need to say any more about it,” Mr. Webb said.

When asked about Mr. Webb’s comments, Mr. Wadhams replied: “I don’t know what he means. But I will say this — I am honored to be attacked by a Hollywood movie producer like Jim Webb.”

Mr. Webb has authored several best-selling books, and has worked on feature film projects with many of Hollywood’s top producers. His original story “Rules of Engagement,” which he also executive-produced, starred Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson.

Yesterday, Mr. Warner, a Democrat, lent his support to Mr. Webb and said he plans to help him raise money in the race.

As of May 24, Mr. Webb had $220,000 on hand, while Mr. Allen had $7.5 million. Last week, Mr. Webb received the support of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat.

“As I travel the country, there is an enormous amount of interest in this race everywhere,” said Mr. Warner, who also is said to be considering a 2008 presidential bid. “Everywhere I go, people say, ‘Tell me about this Webb guy.’”

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