By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 3, 2006; B01
Read the entire article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/02/AR2006100201299.html
George Allen tried to revive his embattled reelection campaign last night with an unusual paid appeal on television asking voters to focus on issues instead of the character questions that have dramatically tightened the race.
The Virginia Republican, appearing for two minutes on one network in each of the five television markets in the state, acknowledged that he has been sidetracked by the questions about his racial and ethnic sensitivity but said he wants to talk about "real issues" with his opponent, Democrat James Webb.
"They tried a political trick tonight," said Webb adviser Steve Jarding, who added that his candidate has been talking about issues for months. Jarding said Allen should meet Webb for a series of debates if he truly wants to talk about issues.
Allen's taped commercial, which aired before the 8 p.m. start of prime time, was an unprecedented step in Virginia politics, analysts said, suggesting his campaign recognizes that he is in the fight of his career against Webb, a former Republican making his first run for public office.
As Allen stood and looked into the camera, viewers saw a backdrop with a photo of his late father, former Washington Redskins coach George Allen.
Allen, who has a considerable financial lead over Webb, has been hammering his rival for a week with television and radio ads featuring several female U.S. Naval Academy graduates who said they were harassed in the early 1980s because Webb demeaned women in a 1979 magazine article he wrote titled "Women Can't Fight."
Yesterday, the Webb campaign responded with a 30-second spot featuring two retired female military officers who say they were able to advance because of policies Webb implemented when he was secretary of the Navy.
Allen, who has been airing television ads statewide for months, had $6.6 million in the bank in June. But the ads and Allen's message have largely been overshadowed by his response to the controversies.
Summarized by Copernic Summarizer
In August, Allen referred to an Indian American volunteer for Webb as "macaca," considered a slur in some cultures. The gaffe brought new scrutiny of Allen's past, including his youthful admiration for the Confederate flag and the fact that he once kept a noose in his law office.
Even as Allen tried to refocus the campaign, he found himself responding yesterday to the latest scandal on Capitol Hill. He said he would return $2,000 in contributions he received from former congressman Mark Foley, a Florida Republican who resigned last week because of inappropriate instant messages he sent to teenage pages.