- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

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BIG STONE GAP, Va. — U.S. Senate candidates in Virginia yesterday made final appeals to voters across the state, asking them to consider their positions on fiscal and social issues and the ongoing conflict in Iraq.

Sen. George Allen, a Republican, talked with tailgaters at the Redskins game in Landover, and Democratic challenger James H. Webb Jr. stayed with party loyalists in the southwestern region in a close race that could decide whether Republicans keep control of the U.S. Senate.

Both men met with as many voters as possible this weekend, flying across the state to remind them of their views on the war, taxes and the marriage amendment on the Virginia ballot.

“I will work to bring fairness back to the economic system,” said Mr. Webb, prompting an unexpected standing ovation.

Mr. Webb, who was joined by United Mine Workers of America President Cecil E. Roberts and former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, also promised a minimum-wage increase would be passed swiftly in a Democratic Congress.

Mr. Allen, son of famed Redskins coach George H. Allen, talked with football fans at FedEx Field before the Redskins’ game against the Dallas Cowboys. He was joined by former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Republican Reps. Thomas M. Davis III and Frank R. Wolf, both of Northern Virginia.

“Every vote counts,” said Mr. Allen, wearing jeans and carrying a football. “The world is controlled by those who show up.”

On the issues, Mr. Allen and Mr. Webb rarely agree.

In southwestern Virginia, Mr. Allen and national Republicans are running commercials on social topics such as the marriage amendment and illegal immigration to appeal to their conservative base.

On fiscal issues, Mr. Allen, a former governor, opposed a 2004 statewide increase in sales and cigarette taxes and said he wants to make President Bush’s tax cuts permanent. One of his campaign ads accuses Mr. Webb of wanting to raise taxes by $2,000 on every Virginia family.

Mr. Webb tells voters at every stop that the ad is false and repeats his stump line that the average chief executive officer today makes 400 times the salary of the average worker.

“I will not vote to raise taxes for working men and women,” he said yesterday, to applause from a packed crowd at a high school in Grundy. “What I have said is corporate America is not paying its fair share anymore.”

The Iraq war was a top issue for residents throughout the region.

Mr. Webb has declined to use son Jimmy Webb’s name on the campaign trail, saying he does not want to use the 24-year-old Marine’s deployment in Iraq for political gain.

But Democrats say Virginia voters “deserve to know” that Mr. Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran, has a unique perspective as the only Senate candidate with a child serving in Iraq.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine agreed, saying the election is about the “thousands of Jimmy Webbs in Iraq and Afghanistan,” who “need leaders worthy of the sacrifice they are making.”

Mr. Webb does tell Virginians that he was an early opponent of the war and says Mr. Allen is “one of the main reasons we’re bogged down in Iraq.”

Mr. Kerrey, a Vietnam veteran who was on the September 11 commission, called Mr. Webb a “patriot” who will support working families and keep them safe from terrorists.

“Jim has never forgotten that it’s important to live by those three words: duty, honor and country. It’s not phony for him. It’s real. It’s in his gene code,” he said.

Mr. Allen says he holds Mr. Webb’s military experience in high regard.

“I respect my opponent’s service 40 some odd years ago,” he said, calling the war in Iraq “tough” and saying “mistakes have been made.”

In a two-minute commercial that will air tonight, Mr. Allen will say: “I’ll seek a new course for our brave troops that corrects mistakes instead of dwelling on them and leaves Iraq an ally in the war on terror.”

Mr. Giuliani praised Mr. Allen for his support of the USA Patriot Act, calling Democrats “the party of the past.”

Mr. Allen, who opposed the Senate-passed “comprehensive” immigration bill, has been endorsed by the border-enforcement group the Minutemen. He accuses Mr. Webb in television ads of favoring amnesty for illegals and wanting to give aliens Social Security benefits.

He says that marriage must be protected against “activist judges” who “ignore the will of the people” and that an amendment is needed because of recent court decisions.

Mr. Webb defended himself in this socially conservative region this weekend and said Mr. Allen is misrepresenting his faith.

“I am a Christian,” he said. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That is my faith.”

However, he said he doesn’t like the amendment on the Virginia ballot.

Mr. Roberts gave a fiery appeal on behalf of Mr. Webb, saying Mr. Allen “just does whatever George Bush tells him to do.”

“You don’t have a United States senator now, you’ve got a rubber stamp,” he said.

Mr. Webb will make campaign stops today in Roanoke, Norfolk and Richmond with Mr. Kaine and former Govs. Mark Warner and L. Douglas Wilder. He will also hold a rally in Old Town Alexandria with former President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Allen also will hold rallies today across Virginia, with Republican Sen. John W. Warner, who appears in the new commercial.

• Christina Bellantoni was with the Webb campaign and Seth McLaughlin was with the Allen campaign.

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