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Another Day, Another Dozen Apologies From Sen. Allen
In lieu of potentially demoralizing issues such as Iraq, Allen addressed conservative causes -- the pledge of allegiance, judicial nominees, and arctic oil drilling to lower gas prices ("It won't bother any of the mosquitoes up there"). He regained some of his usual brashness when he criticized the Bush-backed immigration legislation as "convoluted," "outrageous" and "absurd."
Trailed by reporters at the event's end, Allen practically dashed from the room and aboard his idling campaign bus.
Because Allen hinted that he would take questions at his next stop, three television cameras, a radio reporter and two newspaper reporters were waiting when his bus arrived at Friendship Industries, where the senator was announcing a grant contract to train disabled workers. Aides tried to put off the questioning again, but when the reporters started shouting, Allen consented to a quick news conference.
"Keep it tight," an Allen spokesman warned.
The fellow from NBC 29 led off. "An apology to Mr. Sidarth has been in the media, but nobody, I believe, has heard it from your mouth," he said.
"I apologized to all Virginians, I apologized," Allen said. "I finally got ahold of Sidarth, Mr. Sidarth yesterday, found his cellphone, I talked to him personally."
After another macaca question, and another macaca apology, a reporter from the local newspaper called out: "Can we get a question on the issue of the day?"
He could not. After one more macaca question, Allen's press guy had had enough. "Let's take this question right here," he interrupted, beckoning to the local newspaper reporter.
"How much is the contract?" the reporter asked.
"Nine million dollars," Allen replied.
"That's a nice contract," the reporter said.
"It's a really good contract," Allen agreed.
Watching from the back of the room, Allen supporter Ed Hughes was disgusted. Asked his opinion of the macaca melee, the cowboy-boot-wearing Hughes replied: "You can't print it. It starts with 'S.' " In politics, Hughes added, "you'd have to be a 6-year-old virgin to ever pass the test."