Allen Draws Supporters, Critics in Closing Stretch of Close Race

By Kevin Mooney | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT


(CNSNews.com) - Heading towards the final straight of a tough campaign Monday, Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) touted his national security credentials, his support for a state constitutional marriage amendment, and his 20-year record of public service.

At a campaign appearance at a metro station in northern Virginia Monday morning, Allen was greeted by enthusiastic supporters and some vocal opponents, including anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan.

The incumbent senator is facing a tough challenge from Jim Webb, a former Marine who served as secretary of the Navy during the Reagan years. The latest Gallup Poll shows Allen with a narrow three point lead, while Real Clear Politics places the race in a dead-heat.

Nevertheless, Allen said he felt the momentum was on his side and encouraged the supporters and well-wishers in attendance to help "get out the vote."

Webb, a Republican turned Democrat, has been critical of the Bush administration's prosecution of the war in Iraq, while Allen has warned against a pre-mature withdrawal that he says would embolden terrorists.

In his remarks, Allen stressed his support for U.S. troops abroad and for counter-terrorism measures in place to protect the American homeland.

"We are in a fight against extremists who want to destroy our way of life," he said. "We must persevere."

The two candidates are also divided over a marriage protection amendment, which Allen said he supports. In a series of radio ads Webb has said he "believes marriage is between a man and woman" but the Allen campaign claims Webb opposes the amendment.

Phone calls to the Webb campaign seeking comment to clarify the candidate's position were not returned.

About 90 Allen supporters were on hand at the Vienna metro station, handing out campaign flyers to commuters. Chris Filiciello was among the mix of volunteers voicing support for the senator and for the war effort.

"We should be in Iraq because the terrorists won't give up," he said. "If we don't fight them over there, they will come here."

Filiciello said he was also impressed by Allen's record of service on behalf of Virginia.

Webb supporters in attendance were critical of the war in Iraq and praised the "personal knowledge" their candidate had of military affairs. One man, who asked not to be identified, said Webb was the type of person "who puts the country ahead of himself." He also described the Democratic candidate as "a man of integrity and principle."

But Tom Lovelace of Clifton, Va., said the Democratic challenger had "no record" of working on behalf of Virginia. Allen, by contrast, "has done a lot for Virginia," and had worked for lower taxes, both as a senator and as a governor, Lovelace said.

Lovelace told Cybercast News Service he was also disturbed by controversial contents in some of Webb's novels. The Allen campaign earlier highlighted the issue.

At the weekend, Allen appeared alongside former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. At the campaign event at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy, the over-arching theme was security at both the national and local level.

"We must recognize the enormity and the seriousness of this global war on terror, and demonstrate to friend and foe alike that we have the same will and resolve in this war that we've always had throughout our great history," Allen said.

Giuliani said Allen deserved credit for providing law enforcement officials and counter-terrorism agents with the tools they needed to deter attacks and bring America's enemies to justice.

"Virginians know that in George Allen they have a senator who realizes what is at stake and who has the experience and judgment to make the right calls," Guiliani said. "The decisions about our security that are made today, will affect us for a long time."

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