- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed Democrat James H. Webb Jr. in the U.S. Senate race in Virginia at a fundraiser yesterday, while incumbent Sen. George Allen tried to refocus his stumbling campaign on his political accomplishments.

The former first lady also downplayed a television advertisement paid for by Mr. Allen that hammers Mr. Webb for the view he held about a woman’s role in combat 27 years ago.

Mrs. Clinton, who headlined the “Women for Webb” luncheon in Alexandria, said Congress needs someone with Mr. Webb’s military expertise and demonstrated leadership who can stand up to President Bush and the Republican majority.

“We need to elect Democrats,” Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, said. “We’re never going to have the right kind of debate about what needs to be done in Iraq or Afghanistan until we have some leverage in the Congress and frankly replace some of the subservient Republicans who are unwilling to ask the hard questions, and Democrats like Jim Webb will.”

Mr. Allen has backed Mr. Bush 96 percent of the time, making the senator the third biggest supporter of the president in the U.S. Senate.

When asked about Mr. Webb’s 1979 “Women Can’t Fight” article that questioned whether women were fit for military combat and apparently led to women facing harassment at the Naval Academy, Mrs. Clinton said, “Times have changed.”

“That was about 30 years ago, and I’ve watched and analyzed what Jim Webb has done when he was in the Pentagon — opening up positions, thousands of them to women where previously they had not been available,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Mr. Webb has apologized for the “tone” of the article and stressed that as secretary of the Navy under President Reagan he opened more military billets to women than any secretary in history had.

Meanwhile, Mr. Allen kicked off an “Issues, Ideas, Proven Record Tour” in Fredericksburg, Va., yesterday, as he tries to refocus his campaign on his record as state legislator, congressman, governor and U.S. Senator.

Mrs. Clinton’s appearance at Mr. Webb’s fundraiser came the morning after Mr. Allen aired a rare two-minute statewide TV address Monday evening to turn around a floundering campaign. Mr. Allen’s campaign spent $50,000 on the ad.

Mr. Allen’s campaign has been bogged down in character questions concerning his “macaca” remark, his reaction to a reporter’s question about his Jewish heritage and accusations that he often used the “n-word” in the 1970s. Mr. Allen referred to a Webb aide as a macaca — considered a racial slur in some cultures — while campaigning in August.

“The negative personal attacks and baseless allegations have also pulled us away from what you expect and deserve,” Mr. Allen told viewers in the ad.

The prerecorded address ran a few minutes after one of Mr. Allen’s spots attacking Mr. Webb for his positions in the “Women Can’t Fight” article had aired.

Mr. Webb’s campaign yesterday responded to Mr. Allen’s negative attacks with a 30-second TV ad featuring retired military women praising Mr. Webb’s record as Navy secretary.

“He created more operational positions for women than anybody in the history of the Navy,” retired Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Nancy McPherson says in the ad.

“It’s easy to just take shots at people, it’s harder to actually change things, and that’s what I did as Navy secretary,” Mr. Webb says in the ad.

The new spot comes toward the end of a three-month period in which Mr. Webb has benefited from Mr. Allen’s missteps and raised an estimated $3 million.

Kristian Denny Todd, a spokeswoman for Mr. Webb, said the campaign will use the money to air additional TV ads that will highlight differences between the candidates.

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