In an article Thursday on Virginia Senate candidate George Allen's speech to business leaders assembled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Allen should have been quoted as saying that, if he were elected, "the U.S. chamber and all people are going to be welcome in my office." (Published 10/30/1999)
Virginia Senate candidate George Allen knows that to retain his fund-raising lead over his Democratic rival, he must turn to Washington lobbyists and corporate executives, and that's exactly where he aimed his pitch for financial help yesterday.
In a classic example of the studied way many politicians handle the delicate issue of fund-raising, Allen hinted to the approximately 75 business figures assembled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce just how grateful he would be to them.
"If I'm given the honor of representing the people of Virginia in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. chamber and all of you will be welcome in my office," said the former Virginia governor to applause. "You understand what I'm saying." Later, he added: "We need funds. Early funds help. I like talking about issues more than groveling for money, but we need your money."
Allen, a Republican, never mentioned his opponent, Sen. Charles S. Robb, in his hour-long presentation at the Capitol Hill Club. But Allen did boast of what he said were his numerous "pro-business achievements," including strengthening public schools and lightening the regulatory burden on companies.
No checks changed hands. But John R. Block, a Reagan era agriculture secretary who is now a food industry lobbyist, invited everyone to an Allen fund-raiser next month.
Allen's appeal to business already has translated into campaign dollars. Through June 30, Allen reported raising $2.5 million, easily surpassing Robb's $1 million.
Yesterday's event gave those assembled a chance to ask about their pet issues--such as trial lawyers' harassment of companies--and Allen's remarks included pro-corporate views that they welcomed. The lobbyists, representing Bell Atlantic, Ford Motor and other manufacturers, utilities and computer firms, responded enthusiastically.
"We need a stronger voice for Virginia in terms of these business issues," the U.S. chamber's chief lobbyist, Lonnie Taylor, said afterward, broadly suggesting a preference for Allen.
But Robb also has a pro-industry record. He was the only Senate Democrat to receive the chamber's Spirit of Enterprise Award for pro-business votes for the last two years.