Issues Overshadowed by 'Distractions,' Allen Says

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 9, 2006

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) calls them his "distractions."

They started when he called a Democratic aide "macaca" and continued throughout the fall, with allegations about his character and accusations that dated back to his days in high school, college and law school.

As Allen campaigned unsuccessfully for a second term in the U.S. Senate, the distractions formed a dark, unattractive narrative of his life that he said crowded out everything else he was trying to say.

"You have these cheap shots coming at you, but you still need to move forward," Allen said yesterday in one of his first interviews since losing to Democrat James Webb by 9,329 votes out of a total of 2.4 million cast last month. "Obviously, when people are spreading falsehoods and lying about your character and who you are, it's much more aggravating."

"It allowed the portrayal -- and this is what's frustrating -- portrayal of the campaign to be away from actual issues, real solutions that matter," Allen said.

He declined to talk specifically about the controversies that turned what was supposed to be his warm-up for a presidential campaign into a losing bid to hold on to his Senate seat. "You can't brood and dwell" on the loss, he said.

But it's clear -- especially from the football analogies he uses frequently to describe the sudden turn in his political life -- that Allen regrets the mistakes he and his campaign staff made during the past several months.

"In the event that you lost a game by three or four touchdowns, people say, 'Gosh, it's a blowout,' " Allen said as movers packed up boxes and removed pictures from Room 204 in the Russell Senate Office Building. "If you lose by one point in a game, you can look back on every single play of the game."

Looking back, he continued, one "can say, 'gosh darn, if we only had made that block, if we only didn't jump off-sides, if we only had recovered that fumble, if we hadn't thrown that interception. If the referees didn't screw us on that play.' "

Who are the referees in that analogy? He doesn't say.

There's a lot that Allen won't talk about. He will not discuss his immediate plans, saying he is focused on "doing the people's business" until he leaves his Senate office Jan. 3. He will not say what job offers he is considering but says he has "some really exciting opportunities" to pursue.

And he politely declines to discuss any political future he might have in Virginia.

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