Wednesday, August 30, 2006

2008 Update: George Allen

Things just continue to get worse for VA Sen. George Allen as he campaigns for both reelection to the Senate and a probable GOP run in 2008 for president. Allen's small burst of popularity came and went in February, and has rapidly disappeared as Allen struggles with many problems. His infamous 'macaca" statement (we all know about that..right?) was only the beginning, with newly intensified scrutiny bringing up previous controversies over Allen's many displays of the Confederate flag while in high school, college, and later.

Allen's recent sordid past is now being dredged up again, with a story in The Nation showing that Allen has forged very close ties to influential white-supremacist groups in Virginia, and also another controversy involving the Confederate flag.

From the article:

Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.

In 1996, when Governor Allen entered the Washington Hilton Hotel to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations, he strode to a booth at the entrance of the exhibition hall festooned with two large Confederate flags--a booth operated by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), at the time a co-sponsor of CPAC. After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.

According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum told me. "We got our bona fides." And so did Allen.

Allen's campaign is denying the entire thing:

Asked whether Allen supports or deplores the CCC, John Reid, his communications director pleaded ignorance. "I am unaware of the group you mention or their agenda and because we have no record of the Senator having involvement with them I cannot offer you any opinion on them," Reid told me in an e-mail response.

Allen's growing difficulties have now spread to his Senate reelection campaign. A new poll has Allen trailing Jim Webb, his Democratic opponent, by 1.3 points: Webb 47.9 - Allen 46.6. That's obviously not a big gap - well within the margin of error. However, with Allen's lead once at nearly 20 points, a dead heat is bad news for the Sen.

His 2008 bid is treading water as well, with these latest controversies not helping his cause at all. The GOP needs to have a likeable candidate that is seen as somewhat moderate on most issues, and that's not George Allen. A poll of GOP contenders in '08 released on the 18th from Polling Report shows that Allen hasn't experienced a big drop yet, but that could be because he's only at 5% to begin with. Also, this poll was conducted before the "macaca" statement really blew up (although that may help Allen with certain GOPers).

The numbers:

Rudy Giuliani
Condoleezza Rice

John McCain
Newt Gingrich
George Allen
Mitt Romney
Bill Frist
Sam Brownback
Other (vol.)
None (vol.)


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