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Allen Calls Webb Aide, Apologizes For Remark
Asked whether that message is consistent with Allen's apologies, Wadhams said, "I think the memo speaks for itself."
Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report, said the Allen campaign is pursuing a two-pronged strategy aimed at convincing some voters that Allen is sorry while motivating his base with attacks against liberals and the media.
"They need a better foil," Cook said. "They need to shift this into 'We're the persecuted.' It was a very, very calculated move."
Mark Rozell, a politics professor at George Mason University, said the comments by Wadhams and Allen are "completely inconsistent" but are part of "a well-thought-through strategy to speak to different audiences."
Rozell said Allen's campaign has probably seen polling data that suggest he is losing support in Virginia, where he is fighting for a second term, and nationally, where he might run for president in 2008.
"The fact that the senator has been so profusely apologetic suggests that he and his campaign strategists know that this incident has really hurt him," Rozell said.
Sidarth, who had been assigned by the Webb campaign to follow Allen on a swing through Southwest Virginia, said he asked Allen why it took him so long to apologize personally.
Allen said he had expected to see Sidarth on the campaign trail again and had wanted to apologize in person, Sidarth and Wadhams said.
"I still have some questions about why it took so long, but, yes, he did the right thing," Sidarth said. Asked whether he thought the apology was sincere, Sidarth declined to comment.
The Bush fundraiser was held at the home of former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie. As Bush's motorcade approached, Allen and Webb supporters tried to drown each other out. Allen supporters yelled "We love George" as Webb fans yelled and waved signs, which included phrases such as "Hey George Allen, Welcome to the real Virginia."
Norm Atkins, an Allen supporter from Falls Church, said the senator's "mouth goes faster than his brain. I don't think it was intended to be negative, but it was to someone from the Democratic Party who was, let's face it, making trouble."
Terry Hartnett, a Webb supporter who lives in Burke, said George Washington's house, Mount Vernon, is a mile away from the fundraising site. "This is the real Virginia. If he [Allen] doesn't think this is the real Virginia, why does he live here?"
Allen lives in the Mount Vernon community of Fairfax County, also about a mile from Gillespie's house. Many of the several dozen Allen supporters outside the fundraiser said it is time to forgive and forget. "We make mistakes, we apologize and we move on," said Juanita Balenger of Annandale. "God forgives us for our mistakes. If he can do it, so can the media and all those offended."