The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Monday, July 03, 2006

Webb gives response to Bush’s weekly radio address; A33

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate James Webb took to the airwaves over the weekend to slam the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq.

Webb delivered the Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address, calling the U.S. presence in Iraq a “quagmire.”

“We need to bring the Iraq war to an early and honorable end,” said Webb, a former secretary of the Navy and a former Republican turned Democrat. “We need to begin bringing our troops home soon as the first step toward a complete military pullout from that country.”

Webb is challenging incumbent Sen. George Allen, a Republican and former Virginia governor who is seeking a second six-year term.

The Allen campaign did not immediately respond to re-quests for comment over the weekend, but Campaign Manager Dick Wadhams has recently lambasted Webb’s views on Iraq.

The Allen camp went after Webb when the U.S. Senate was debating a proposed pullout from Iraq late last month.

“James H. Webb Jr. suddenly lost his voice ... as his close friends and political allies, Sens. John Kerry [D-Mass.], Harry Reid [D-Nev.] and Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.], tried to pass a strategic plan for retreat in Iraq,” Wadhams said at the time. “James H. Webb, Jr. did not utter a word ... as the very people who threw their arms around him and dragged him across the line in the Democratic primary attempted to immediately pull out of Iraq.”

Saturday’s radio address contained some of Webb’s strongest personal statements on Iraq to date, and his campaign has not been shy about other topics.

Webb spokesman Steve Jarding had harsh words for Allen when the Republican’s campaign prodded Webb over his opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment outlawing flag burning.

“While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.’s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada,” Jarding said. “People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield.”

Webb won the right to challenge Allen by trumping former lobbyist Harris Miller in a primary election, and he entered the general election at a distinct financial disadvantage.

As of the last Federal Election Commission filings, Allen had more than $6 million in the bank; Webb had less than $750,000.

Recently, the campaigns have been taking pot shots at one another, firing off press releases like bullets with language usually reserved for the last days before an election.

Allen’s campaign took a shot at Webb’s work as a film producer, and the Webb campaign has begun using Allen’s middle name — Felix — in every reference.

Election Day is Nov. 7.