Page 2 of 2   <      

Webb Denies Ever Using Word as Epithet

"He said it's not true. It's not even close to being true," Todd said. She quoted Webb as saying: "In 1963, you couldn't go to Watts and do that kind of thing. You'd get killed. So of course I didn't do it. I would never do that. I would never want to do that."

Todd condemned the allegations as politically motivated by the Allen campaign.

"They are pathetic individuals. They are beneath it. They are slime," she said. "Here we are trying to talk about the issues. They are completely and totally desperate."

Cragg, a former Army sergeant major, described himself as a longtime friend of Webb's who worked for him when he was assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan. Cragg said he approached the Allen campaign through a friend after hearing Webb's answer to the Times-Dispatch reporter's question about using the N-word.

"The fact is he has. He used it in my presence," Cragg said. "I don't think he's a racist any more than George Allen is. But he's not frank in admitting that he grew up in a culture where that was common and he used it."

Allen campaign officials declined to comment on Cragg's story. But political adviser Chris LaCivita responded to Todd's criticism. "They wouldn't know an issue if it hit them square in the face," he said.

Cragg's accusations come as Allen continued to battle charges he used the same racial epithet during college and was racially insensitive.

On Monday, a college football teammate, Ken Shelton, said Allen used the N-word referring to black people. He also said that he, Allen and Billy Lanahan, another teammate, once cut the head off of a deer and, at Allen's urging, stuffed the head into a black person's mailbox.

Lanahan is dead. But his former roommate came forward Wednesday to say that he recalls Lanahan telling him the story without mentioning that the mailbox was a black person's.

"He told me they went hunting," said George Beam, 53, who lives in Charlottesville. "All he said was we cut the deer head off and stuck it in somebody's mailbox."

And late Wednesday, Allen's campaign launched a multimedia barrage against Webb that included testimonials from former female midshipmen at the Naval Academy. The women, who came forward several weeks ago, said an article Webb wrote in 1979 created a hostile environment for academy women.

"It was demoralizing from a perspective that only a woman could understand," one of the women says in the ad.

Todd called the ad "completely erroneous" because Webb created opportunities for women as secretary of the Navy.

<       2

© 2006 The Washington Post Company