- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Virginia Sen. George Allen yesterday said that he will be re-elected by sticking to conservative issues, even as national liberals are funneling cash to his Democratic opponent and linking the senator to an unpopular president.

On Thursday, Mr. Allen will appear with President Bush to refuel his campaign coffers in an effort to counter Democrat James H. Webb Jr.’s robust fundraising and to rally his anti-tax and socially conservative base.

“If it’s based on issues, stands on issues, solutions, ideas and a proven record of performance, I think we’re going to win,” Mr. Allen, a Republican, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “The people of Virginia know me as a senator and as a governor.”

The first-term senator said that he wants to make the president’s tax cuts permanent and expressed support for privately managed health savings accounts and opposition to activist judges. Mr. Allen was scheduled to appear last night in a two-minute statewide campaign commercial with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner.

Mr. Webb’s call for “more revenue” because of the billions of dollars being spent on the war in Iraq is a “code word for raising taxes,” said Mr. Allen, adding that holding the line on taxes is “one of the most salient issues in our campaign.”

Mr. Webb supports rolling back some of Mr. Bush’s tax credits for the wealthy, giving a 5 percent tax break for military veterans who serve honorably and extending tax cuts for Virginia’s families, such as the college-tuition tax credit. “Any tax breaks that benefit a large section of the American people, I am for,” the Democratic challenger said last week.

A former Navy secretary under President Reagan, Mr. Webb has not yet accepted an invitation to be interviewed at The Times.

Mr. Allen once held a commanding lead in his re-election bid and seemed poised for a 2008 White House bid.

However, polls show that Mr. Allen and Mr. Webb are nearly tied in a race that could determine the control of the Senate come Nov. 7. Stars of both parties are crossing the Potomac River and bringing national money to both men.

Mr. Webb has benefited from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s $1 million ad attacking Mr. Allen and from fundraisers hosted by prominent senators such as Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barack Obama of Illinois.

Former President Bill Clinton will headline a high-dollar fundraiser in McLean for Mr. Webb on the same night that Mr. Bush is scheduled to appear at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond for Mr. Allen.

Mr. Bush’s approval rating in Virginia is in the low 40s, and Mr. Webb reminds voters at every stop that Mr. Allen has supported the president 97 percent of the time in general and 100 percent of the time on foreign policy.

“The president is welcome in Virginia,” Mr. Allen said yesterday. “We hope it’s a good fundraiser for us. We need the funds to battle the national liberal Democrats.”

When asked, Mr. Allen said that he has disagreed with Mr. Bush on immigration reform, education and the nomination of Harriet Miers as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

The president’s No Child Left Behind Act forces Virginia to “dumb down” its Standards of Learning, which were created when Mr. Allen was governor, the senator said.

Mr. Allen also said that he learned too late about the real cost of Mr. Bush’s Medicare prescription-drug program, which he supported with the intent of helping the frail afford prescriptions.

“Clearly, the facts were not accurate,” he said.

Mr. Allen said that he and Mr. Warner, a fellow Republican and Virginia’s senior senator, agree on the fundamentals when it comes to the war in Iraq. Most notably, the two senators say that the country cannot become a haven for terrorists.

“It hasn’t gone as well as I wish it had gone,” Mr. Allen said yesterday.

Like Mr. Webb, Mr. Allen yesterday said that he is comfortable with women’s roles in the military.

The issue has lingered, in part, because of an Allen television ad that criticizes Mr. Webb for writing a 1979 magazine article questioning a woman’s place in the military. Mr. Webb apologized for the article’s tone and stressed that he opened more operational jobs to women than any other Navy secretary.

As of Oct. 1, Mr. Allen had $5.5 million in cash on hand and Mr. Webb $2.7 million, according to campaign finance disclosures.

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