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Va. Senate: Kerry and Webb Mend Fences

Sen. John Kerry and Virginia Senate candidate Jim Webb put more than 30 years of ill will behind them today as they appeared together at an Arlington, Va., rally on the eve of the state's congressional primary.

Sen. John McCain
Jim Webb speaks with Ingrid H. Morroy, Arlington County Commissioner of Revenue, shortly after a Monday campaign rally with John Kerry. Webb faces Harris Miller in the Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday. (Abigail Pheiffer/washingtonpost.com)

Although Kerry had already formally endorsed Webb over former technology lobbyist Harris Miller, the Webb campaign was clearly hoping to use the event as a high-profile testament to Webb's Democratic bona fides, which Miller has attacked relentlessly on the radio. (Webb served in the administration of former president Ronald Reagan and supported Sen. George Allen over incumbent Chuck Robb, a Democrat, in 2000.)

For one attendee, the Kerry appearance seemed to work. "If John Kerry doesn't have a problem with it, I don't know why anyone should," said Ken Bernstein, a Webb supporter and active political blogger who attended the Arlington event.

In their remarks, both men acknowledged the long-standing chasm between them, saying it was the result of the differing paths they took following their service in Vietnam. Both said the importance of this year's elections helped them resolve their differences.

Webb said the Republican attacks on Kerry's military credentials during the 2004 campaign played a major part in their rapprochement. "Why do we keep trying to nitpick the service of someone 35 years ago when we are not holding people accountable for what they are doing today?" Webb asked. The crowd responded with roars of applause. Kerry said that even in during their long estrangement, he always had "tremendous respect" for Webb.

Kerry is one of a number of national party figures -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) are two others -- who have endorsed Webb's candidacy under the belief that only he can run competitively against Allen in the fall.

Kerry has placed special emphasis on supporting veterans seeking office in 2006. The party's '04 presidential nominee has raised $32,000 for Webb through his national e-mail list, recorded an automated phone message urging voters to back Webb and recently sent a get-out-the-vote e-mail on Webb's behalf.

Despite Webb's national support, Miller is on pace to win the spending war thanks to roughly $1 million in personal donations. Miller also has stronger --- and longer -- credentials among Democratic activists, who will likely make up the bulk of voters in what is expected to be a very low-turnout primary tomorrow.

For more on the race, see washingtonpost.com's interactive campaign map, and be sure to check this space tomorrow morning for a primary primer.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 12, 2006; 6:09 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Primary Primer: Virginia, South Carolina and Maine

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