Former governor and senator George Allen was captured on video while campaigning in Franklin on Wednesday talking to a soldier’s father about the need to properly equip troops with body armor.
Allen, a Republican, said it was “deplorable” that the soldier’s family had to provide his own equipment, specifically gloves.
“Any man or woman that’s serving in our military shouldn’t be having to ask for their parents to provide them with the clothing, in this case their gloves,’’ he said. “That is what we expect our federal government to do.”
But American Bridge 21st Century, the Democratic-leaning group that has been tracking Allen while he is campaigning for the U.S. Senate next year, pointed out that the former senator voted at least twice against equipment for soldiers during his one term.
In 2003, Allen voted to table an amendment that would have spent $322 million on safety equipment for troops in Iraq and to table an amendment that appropriated more than $1 billion for equipment procurement for Iraq.
“George Allen is trying awfully hard to reinvent himself as he desperately tries to run from his abysmal record as a senator,’’ said Chris Harris, a spokesman for American Bridge. “Unfortunately for him, he can’t run from the facts. And the facts are clear: He voted against providing body armor to our troops as they were in harm’s way, and no amount of rhetoric can change that.’’
In 2006, when Allen ran unsuccessfully for reelection against Sen. Jim Webb (D), VoteVets PAC ran an ad criticizing him for voting against better body armor for troops.
Allen spokesman Bill Riggs responded to the attack Thursday by attacking former governor Tim Kaine, the presumed Democratic nominee and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“Liberal groups are going to cherrypick partisan votes. It’s a time-honored tradition in Washington,’’ he said. “Governor Allen has always stood up for our troops. It’s disappointing that Chairman Kaine would allow his Washington allies to descend on Virginia so early as they cast around false political attacks.”
In 2006, Allen’s campaign said Allen had a “clear record of supplying body armor and other equipment” to troops, saying he voted for several other bills providing armed vehicles and body armor. Staffers also noted that in at least one amendment, the sponsor did not mention body armor when arguing for its passage.
Allen voted in favor of the fiscal 2004 supplemental appropriations bill, which provided $86.5 billion in funding for Iraq and Afghanistan.
This post has been updated since it was first published.