- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Virginia conservatives, frustrated with Sen. George Allen’s re-election campaign, were hopeful yesterday that the Republican’s address televised statewide Monday evening will reverse his slip in the polls.

The senator now is almost tied with or slightly favored over his Democratic challenger, James H. Webb Jr. Supporters say Mr. Allen needs to refocus on the issues if he wants to win re-election.

That was what Mr. Allen promised in the rare two-minute ad, saying that until the Nov. 7 election he will talk about his record, both as a senator and as governor in the 1990s.

“Good enough, but hardly enough to change the course of the race,” wrote Norman Leahy, an Allen supporter who runs the One Man’s Trash blog. “Will this spot change any votes? No.”

The taped spot, which ran on five stations just before 8 p.m., was a smart move but might not be enough, said state Sen. Jay O’Brien, Fairfax County Republican.

“It was the right thing to do to say, ‘Let’s get off this other junk and talk about the issues,’” he said.

Mr. O’Brien said he was shocked at Mr. Allen’s defensive stance to accusations that he used racial slurs as a college football player and to the fallout from the widely televised moment when he called an Indian-American Webb volunteer “macaca.” The word is considered an ethnic slur in some cultures.

David B. Botkins, a former press aide to Mr. Allen, said the ad charts a positive course.

“It changes the calculus” and re-energizes Mr. Allen’s conservative base, he said.

Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax County Republican, said energetic conservatives will be key for Mr. Allen on Election Day.

“All we need to win the Senate seat for George Allen is to have the Republicans in Northern Virginia show up,” he said. “If they stay home, we have problems.”

Some Republicans put Mr. Allen at fault for steering the campaign off course, particularly with the “macaca” remark.

Mr. Allen acknowledged in the ad: “Some of this I’ve brought on myself.”

“This whole campaign has degenerated into macaca and all the other racial allegations, and no one knows that he’s probably going to go down in history as one of the best governors of Virginia, putting him on the same level as Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson,” Mr. Albo said.

One Republican expressed regret last week that Jay Timmons, a longtime Allen adviser, was not on board.

“He was a control freak, but there was control,” the Republican said.

Mr. Timmons left to join the private sector in 2004, but Hotline on Call reported Monday that he has returned to Mr. Allen’s staff as a senior adviser.

The Allen campaign said the Monday night ad cost $50,000. The senator is following up with a statewide tour with the theme “Issues, Ideas, Proven Record.”

Shaun Kenney, a conservative Republican who ran unsuccessfully for a Spotsylvania seat in the House of Delegates last year, called the ad a “huge” step forward for Mr. Allen.

“Take note, Webb supporters. When the opposition is getting dogpiled by the press, go positive,” he said.

Critics said Mr. Allen’s wife, Susan, seemed “awkward” and “plastic” standing next to her husband in the ad.

Others praised the placement of a photograph of Mr. Allen’s late father, George H. Allen, near a helmet of the Washington Redskins, the team he coached.

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