Allen campaigns in northern valley; B1
(Daily Staff Writer)
WINCHESTER — U.S. Sen. George Allen brought his re-election campaign to the Northern Shenandoah Valley on Thursday.
The Republican stopped briefly at Winchester Regional Airport to rally the GOP faithful during a two-day kickoff fly-around. Allen, a former Virginia governor, is seeking a second six-year term.
Speaking on Thomas Jefferson’s 263rd birthday, Allen described his positions as those of a “common-sense Jeffersonian conservative,” who believes in smaller government, personal freedom and lower taxes.
Some of the loudest applause from the crowd of about 100 came when Allen called for a tighter fiscal belt in Washington and a “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.”
“You have a right to fiscal accountability when folks in Washington are spending your money,” he said.
He said he also wants to see a “paycheck penalty” introduced in Washington. Legislators shouldn’t get paid their six-figure salary until they have a full federal budget in place by Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year, he said.
Allen also said he would support a line-item veto amendment, which would change the U.S. Constitution to give future presidents the same power that most state governors have — the ability to strike down individual portions of a budget.
At present, federal budget bills can only be accepted as a whole or vetoed. Congress approved a line-item veto during the Clinton administration, but courts ruled it unconstitutional.
Federal spending also needs to be reined in, Allen said, by a balanced-budget amendment, which would require a two-thirds majority of Congress and the assent of 38 states. To date, Congress has been reluctant to approve the amendment.
State legislators could force Congress’s hand if 34 states petition for a constitutional convention on the matter, but that has never happened in the nation’s history.
Allen said he doesn’t support a compromise immigration reform bill that would give amnesty and a path toward citizenship to some aliens in the country illegally.
But there should be a way for those who want to work in the U.S. to do so, he added.
“We should have a legal temporary worker system, but we should not award illegal behavior with amnesty,” he said.
“Your federal government has neglected, in my opinion, to secure our borders,” he said. “We need more [Border Patrol] personnel. Actual fences, virtual fences, detention centers.”
Meanwhile, one of Allen’s two would-be November rivals took comedic aim at the senator’s trips outside the commonwealth.
“George Allen is the only Senator from Virginia who has ever kicked off his re-election campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” wrote Kristian Denny Todd, a spokeswoman for Jim Webb, in an e-mail to reporters, referring to recent out-of-state trips by Allen.
Webb, a former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, is battling Northern Virginia businessman Harris Miller for the Democratic nod to run against Allen.
Allen is frequently mentioned as a contender in 2008 for the GOP nomination to succeed President Bush, but has yet to publicly state his intentions to run.
Webb’s team made their point with an animated Web site depicting Allen’s recent jaunts, http://www.georgesjourneys.com.
“At this point, Virginia seems to be more of an afterthought for Senator Allen given his recent travels, campaign hires and overall focus,” Todd said.
Back in Winchester, Allen again declined to answer questions about his future plans. Before every run, Allen has his boots re-soled in Winchester.
When a reporter asked after Thursday’s rally if he planned on kicking up his recently refreshed footwear in the Oval Office, Allen demurred.
“I don’t think President Bush would like [that] very much,” he said.