Allen Gives GOP Reason To Dry Tears

By Chris L. Jenkins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 4, 2005

HOT SPRINGS, Va., Dec. 3 -- Sen. George Allen rallied fellow Virginia Republicans to his 2006 reelection campaign Saturday, telling them that he would stand for low taxes, energy independence and opposition to "activist judges" on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Allen, who is widely thought to be considering a presidential bid in 2008, also told the state party activists gathered for an annual conference that they must stand behind "common-sense Jeffersonian conservative principles" that have helped propel the GOP in national and state elections.

A month after their loss in the governor's race, Republicans are looking optimistically to the next state campaign, with Allen as their star. Democrats have yet to find a strong candidate to oppose the senator, who unseated Charles S. Robb in 2000.

"We will try to motivate and inspire people for ideas, for goals, for a mission," Allen said of the campaign during a luncheon address before about 500 people at the Homestead resort. His speech focused more on national and international issues than on Virginia politics.

"Less taxation, less litigation, greater energy independence in this country. These are the foundational ideals that [Americans and Virginians] believe in."

Several other party leaders also spoke during the two-day conference. The Republicans called for unity and reaffirmation of conservative principles, even as they continued to assess last month's loss by GOP gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore to Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).

On Friday night, former governor James S. Gilmore III said that division over taxes was the chief reason for Kilgore's poor showing Nov. 8.

Gilmore, who campaigned for governor in 1997 by promising to eliminate the car tax, said the party needs to get back to unabashed support for lower taxes.

"We stand for promises made and promises kept," Gilmore said at a reception hosted by Sen. Bill Bolling (R-Hanover), who will be inaugurated lieutenant governor in January. "We will be doomed to minority status if we do not."

Many Republicans believe that Kilgore ran a campaign too close to the political center and didn't criticize Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) enough for raising taxes last year.

Kilgore appeared at the conference Saturday to thank hundreds of activists and well-wishers, and he pledged his assistance in Allen's reelection.

"While this election is over, our fight must continue, because folks, there are still things worth fighting for," Kilgore told the luncheon crowd, which gave him standing ovations before and after his speech.

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