The Washington Post continues to flog away at Senator George Allen's campaign in the Virginia Senate race. Virtually every word being written out of that race is scrutiny of one form or another of Allen, with very little being said about his challenger James Webb. Today they helpfully explain that it is all because Allen had presidential ambitions. While helpfully re-flogging every single thing that has been bombarding Allen these past few weeks.
"When people start mentioning you as a possible presidential candidate, everything is looked at," said Robert E. Denton Jr., a political communications professor at Virginia Tech and a close observer of Virginia politics. "This [scrutiny] is a whole different ballgame for Allen, and it's all about '08, not the Senate campaign."
It wasn't that many months ago that Allen was seen by political insiders as already in the top tier of prospective Republican presidential candidates. In April 2005, he finished first in a National Journal magazine survey of insiders asked to predict the 2008 GOP nominee. In May, Allen finished second behind Arizona Sen. John McCain.
But instead of laying the groundwork for a campaign in Des Moines and Charleston, S.C., Allen's renewed attention is on Winchester and Roanoke. His last trip to one of the early primary states was in July.
The tightening Senate race has even led him to showcase potential rival McCain in television ads aimed at veterans and the kinds of independent voters to whom the Arizona Republican appeals and who could be critical in Allen's race with Democrat James Webb.
Campaign manager Dick Wadhams, who was chosen to be Allen's Senate chief of staff specifically for his national political expertise, doesn't want to talk about anything but the present. "I'm concentrating on the Senate race in 2006," he said yesterday.
He said he doesn't know what role Allen's national profile has played in the campaign. "What I will say is the preponderance of scrutiny of Sen. Allen, as opposed to lack of scrutiny of Webb, suggests that one candidate is getting all the scrutiny, and the other is getting away with no scrutiny at all," Wadhams said.
He also said that Allen's leadership of Republican efforts to retain control of the Senate in 2004, when Democrats thought they had a chance for a takeover, "certainly made Sen. Allen a target."
I don't think Webb has gotten no scrutiny, I just think it has been downplayed and glossed over very, very quickly. Meanwhile, Allen has been raked over the coals relentlessly. Stories like this are really meant to keep the controversies out in front of the voters. This is, I think, the dirtiest campaign season I have ever seen. I am not at all happy with it, either. I don't imagine a lot of voters are, either.