George Allen is pushing ahead with his efforts to attract women voters to his U.S. Senate campaign, unveiling a new ad featuring a Virginia mother whose son was killed in Iraq.
Allen has been battling to narrow a persistent gender gap in his contest against fellow former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D). A Washington Post poll released last week showed Kaine leading among women voters by 14 points, even though Allen spent several weeks this summer airing ads featuring testimonials from women who knew him well.
That pattern continues with Allen’s new ad, “Rhonda,” a 60-second spot (the majority of congressional campaign ads are 30 seconds) about Rhonda Winfield, the mother of Marine Lance Corporal Jason C. Redifer of Stuarts Draft, who was killed in 2005 at age 19 when his Humvee drove over a roadside bomb.
“Following Jason’s death,” Winfield says in the ad, “we received an outpouring of love and support. One of the letters that we received was from George Allen. What made it different was a hand written note, parent to parent.”
Winfield says she went to a speech Allen gave, bringing her son’s dog tags with her. “I was so moved, that I took Jason’s dog tags off my neck and I handed them to him and he still has those dog tags to this day,” she says.
In response to the ad, the Virginia Democratic Party sent a statement from Courtney Lynch, a Marine veteran who ran in the Democratic Senate primary herself before dropping out of the race and endorsing Kaine.
“I am sure that like all Americans, George Allen is grateful for the service of our men and women in uniform, but I remain concerned about his commitment to the benefits they’ve earned based on his previous years in the Senate,” Lynch said, accusing Allen of voting against increased funding for military equipment and veterans health when he served in Congress.