- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2006

With the balance of power in the U.S. Senate hinging on Virginia, national groups are financing a barrage of expensive, negative ads on behalf of both nominees in the final two weeks of the race.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), on behalf of Democratic nominee James H. Webb Jr., yesterday released a TV ad comparing Sen. George Allen to President Bush.

The ad juxtaposes images of the Republican incumbent and those of the president, with each saying, “Stay the course,” and includes images of violence in Iraq. The ad capitalizes on polls showing that voters’ concerns about the conflict in Iraq are making the war a top issue in many races.

“George Allen supports President Bush 96 percent of the time,” the ad says. “But staying the course is not a strategy for victory in Iraq, and voting 96 percent with Bush won’t move our country forward.”

Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) yesterday introduced a $1.4 million ad campaign attacking Mr. Webb for comments he made after the 1991 Tailhook scandal.

The NRSC’s ad shows press clippings about the Tailhook naval aviators convention in Las Vegas, where 83 women reportedly were groped or sexually assaulted.

“Jim Webb? He called this scandal a witch hunt and a feminists’ plot,” the ad says.

The ad concludes by saying that Mr. Webb, who was secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, is “Right for ‘06 — 1806.”

The Webb campaign called the ad misleading, saying Mr. Webb condemned the illicit behavior at the aviators convention and that the NRSC took the “witch hunt” term out of context from Mr. Webb’s 1992 column in the New York Times.

“A botched internal investigation and the ongoing revelations of inexcusable harassment of women at a Las Vegas convention of naval aviators a year ago have also left in their wake a witch hunt that threatens to swamp the entire naval service,” he wrote.

Mr. Webb has called in help from former Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat who announced this month that he won’t seek the presidency in 2008. Polls show that Mr. Warner, who left office in January, remains one of the state’s most popular politicians.

“Jim knows America needs a new direction — not left or right, but forward,” Mr. Warner says on a new television ad for Mr. Webb.

“A senator with the courage to change things, the experience to make us more secure and new ideas to help working people,” Mr. Warner says. “I know Jim Webb. I know his independence, and I know he’ll make us proud.”

Mr. Warner notes that Mr. Webb’s son, Jimmy, is serving in Iraq.

An Allen ad that debuted this week accuses Mr. Webb of plans to raise taxes. “Jim Webb — ideas Virginia can’t afford,” the ad concludes.

Mr. Bush and former President Bill Clinton have hosted high-dollar fundraisers for the nominees.

Mr. Allen received endorsements yesterday from U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and the Latino Coalition.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, will campaign with Mr. Webb today in Northern Virginia.

Tomorrow, Mr. Webb and Mr. Warner will tour the Crooked Road heritage music trail in Southwest Virginia and make a stop in Harrisonburg.

Mr. Allen will be in Southwest Virginia and Roanoke today.

The Allen campaign hinted that voters may see a third “statewide address” on prime-time television in the next two weeks. Mr. Allen has appeared in an upbeat, two-minute commercial twice this season, once with his wife and then with Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.

A Mason-Dixon Polling and Research poll released Monday night showed Mr. Allen ahead of Mr. Webb 47 percent to 43 percent. Gail Parker, the independent candidate, drew 2 percent. The poll of 625 registered voters showed 8 percent undecided. It had a margin of error of four percentage points.

The previous Mason-Dixon poll showed Mr. Allen and Mr. Webb statistically tied at 43 percent each.

The latest Mason-Dixon poll showed Mr. Allen with his lowest popularity rating since he entered the race for governor in 1993. In that poll, conducted for MSNBC and McClatchy Newspapers, Mr. Webb was leading Mr. Allen in both Northern Virginia and military-rich Hampton Roads.

Most other polls show Mr. Allen with a slight lead or tied with Mr. Webb.


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