U.S. SENATE RACE

Webb Defends Novels Against Attacks

Former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner, left, and current Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, right, join U.S. Senate candidate James Webb (D) at a get-out-the-vote rally in Annandale. At the rally, Webb defended his novels, which Sen. George Allen has criticized as demeaning to women.
Former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner, left, and current Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, right, join U.S. Senate candidate James Webb (D) at a get-out-the-vote rally in Annandale. At the rally, Webb defended his novels, which Sen. George Allen has criticized as demeaning to women. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

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By Tim Craig and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 29, 2006

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate James Webb yesterday delivered his strongest criticism of incumbent Sen. George Allen of the fall campaign, vigorously defending himself against Allen's charges that he wrote sex-laced passages in his fiction novels.

He called on voters to reject what he called the "smear tactics" of Allen and his campaign, who released excerpts Thursday from Webb's novels to the Drudge Report Web site and said the writings were lurid and inappropriate for a man seeking to serve in the Senate.

"The fish rots from the head down," Webb (D) said, referring to his belief that Allen (R) is responsible for his campaign staff's tactics and has now shown his true character. "Our government should no longer be in the hands of a group of unprincipled, small-minded, power-hungry character assassins."

Allen, speaking to reporters near Richmond yesterday after winning the endorsement of the National Rifle Association's political action committee, said Webb's career as an author of fictional works was part of his record.

"My record as a United States senator is an open book. My opponent has a record as well," Allen told reporters. "He, in his advertisements, points out that he's an author, that he's a writer of books. That's part of his record. These passages in his books are part of his open record. I'll let the people of Virginia be the judge as to whose record they are more comfortable with."

Allen's attack is the latest twist in a nasty, close campaign that is central to the Democrats' hopes of retaking the Senate.

Webb, joined at a rally in Fairfax County by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and former governor Mark R. Warner (D), said that the Allen campaign is belittling his life as a soldier and the service members who study his works. Kaine and Warner predicted that Allen's late campaign maneuver would backfire.

With some of the most forceful language he has used on the campaign trail, Webb said he was proud of his writing because it reflects the things he saw as a combat Marine in Vietnam and later as a journalist reporting on war-torn regions such as Beirut in the early 1980s.

The one-time boxer charged that Allen, the son of a former Washington Redskins head coach, has lived a life of privilege as a "a pampered public official." Allen, who did not serve in the military, was a college football player at the University of Virginia and spent one summer working on a ranch.

"When George Allen and his campaign take some small excerpts from my novels and not only criticizes them but uses them to question my ethics, my profession, my character, that is a line that should never be crossed," Webb said at Edgar Allen Poe Middle School in Annandale.

"I have lived in the real world, and I have reported the real world in my writings. I started working when I was 12 years old, and I fought in a brutal war. I saw its ugliness while George Allen was hanging out at a dude ranch," Webb said at a get-out-the-vote rally attended by about 300 people.

Allen said he spent time at a "real ranch" in Winnemucca, Nev., well after the end of the Vietnam War.


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