- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sen. George Allen yesterday released two ads that reveal a strategic split and indicate a fundamental problem with his campaign.

One ad, which takes aim from the right, features Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, saying the Virginia Republican should be re-elected because of his tough stance against terrorism. The other attacks Mr. Allen’s Democratic opponent, James H. Webb Jr., for an article he penned 27 years ago about women in the military.

“I’m intrigued as to why he’d be criticizing Webb on this,” said David Domke, a University of Washington professor who analyzes campaign ads. “Most social conservatives would say women don’t belong in combat roles. The ad is powerful because it attempts to undercut Webb’s appeal to a key Democratic constituency: women.”

Conservative blogger Dean Barnett also finds it odd that the Allen campaign is using the “ancient” article, saying Mr. Allen is attacking Mr. Webb “from the left.”

Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams disagreed, saying, “The ad speaks for itself.”

Mr. Webb, a former Republican who served as Navy secretary under President Reagan, now says he is “completely comfortable” with women’s roles in the military.

The Allen ad features three female Naval Academy graduates saying the article, “Women Can’t Fight,” was a “slap in the face” and “demoralizing.”

“I really have to make it very clear to the women of Virginia who may be considering voting for this man that he is no advocate for women,” says Kathleen Murray, a 1984 Naval Academy graduate.

Scott Howell and Co., which produced the spot, also created ads for Republican Jerry W. Kilgore in the Virginia gubernatorial race last year that said his opponent would not oppose the death penalty even for Adolf Hitler. Pundits think the ad was a factor in Mr. Kilgore’s loss to Democratic candidate Timothy M. Kaine.

Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny-Todd noted similarities between Mr. Allen’s ads and the “Hitler” ads.

“They wear negative campaigning like a badge of honor,” she said, dismissing the ad as “very inaccurate.”

Mrs. Denny-Todd said Mr. Allen’s image is so damaged that his campaign is avoiding talking about the senator’s record or substantive issues. “They’ve got nothing to run on,” she said.

The other ad features Mr. McCain calling Mr. Allen a courageous leader.

Mr. Allen “has the utmost confidence and belief that in this terrible, titanic struggle that’s going on between good and evil in the world that we will and must prevail,” Mr. McCain says in the ad, which juxtaposes images of an Iraqi woman with Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Allen’s $650,000 statewide ad blitz aims to combat accusations that he used racial slurs as a young man.

Mr. Webb, who lags his opponent in fundraising, is running an ad that focuses on the increasingly unpopular Iraq war.

“The people who failed to prevent this disaster are not the ones you can count on to fix it,” the decorated Vietnam veteran says in the 30-second spot. “We need to end our occupation of Iraq and to bring stability to the Middle East. We can do it with the right kind of leadership.”

The ad alternates between Mr. Allen and President Bush saying the U.S. must “stay the course.”

Mr. Webb recently got $300,000 from a Democratic fundraiser with former Gov. Mark Warner, after visits from Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and John Kerry of Massachusetts. Also raising money for the Virginia candidate were former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2004, and authors Stephen King and John Grisham.

Mr. Webb’s campaign also benefited in the weeks after Mr. Allen’s nationally televised gaffe calling a man of Indian descent “macaca,” a term considered a racial slur in some cultures.

After that, a former football teammate from the University of Virginia accused Mr. Allen of using the “n-word” decades ago. Since then, numerous racial accusations have surfaced, some substantiated and most not.

Yesterday, Mr. Allen introduced a bill he says will expand the number of black farmers eligible for compensation under a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the late 1990s. The farmers were found to have encountered discrimination when applying for federal farm loans.



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