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George Allen: Republican Cheerleader

Virginia Sen. George Allen hit all the partisan high notes in his speech to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference Saturday morning, repeatedly bringing the audience to its feet despite the early hour.

Allen cast himself as an outsider to the big-spending Republican party in Washington, proposing three measures to bring spending under control in the nation's capital: giving the president line-item veto power, adding a balance budget amendment to the Constitution and imposing a "paycheck penalty" on lawmakers who fail to pass appropriations bills by the start of the new fiscal year. "If you fail to pass all of your appropriations measures by the start of the fiscal year, your paycheck will be withheld until you complete your job," Allen said to a roar from the crowd, which numbered roughly 1,000.

Allen, too, left no grey area on his position on the war in Iraq. "The strategy is we win, they lose and there is no substitute for victory in the war on terror." Applause immediately erupted.

As has become his custom in speeches and media interviews, Allen also repeatedly referenced former President Ronald Reagan, ending his adress with the words of the Great Communicator: "If not us, who. If not now, when." In a media gaggle following his speech, Allen credited Reagan with inspiring him to get involved in politics.

Allen said he was agnostic about the results of this evening's straw poll and used a sports metaphor (no big surprise there) to explain its importance in the 2008 nominating process. "This is not even an intrasquad scrimmage," said Allen. "This is a pickup game."

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 11, 2006; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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