Allen and McDonnell Endorse Thompson
Former senator George F. Allen (R-Va.) and Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R), potential rivals in the 2009 governor's race, joined this morning to reiterate their support for Fred Thompson's bid for the GOP presidential nomination.
At an event in Richmond, Allen and McDonnell praised Thompson's conservative credentials and said he is the Republican's best hope for unifying the party.
"It is very easy for me to advocate for Fred because we think so much alike," said Allen, who cited Thompson's views on abortion, taxes, national security, illegal immigration and trade.
McDonnell noted that Thompson won the endorsement yesterday of the National Right to Life group. "He has been a longstanding supporter of traditional values, a longstanding supporter of marriage and life," said McDonnell, who also noted that Thompson has a house in Northern Virginia.
Besides the politicking for 2008, Allen's appearance at the statehouse was a bit of a homecoming for the former governor. After his loss to Sen. James Webb (D-Va) in last year's Senate race, Allen spent much of 2007 out of public view.
But in recent weeks, Allen has been stepping up his public appearances, including campaigning for GOP candidates in last week's election and penning an op-ed for the Richmond Times Dispatch Sunday.
Relaxed and upbeat, Allen personally welcomed nearly every reporter in the room by their first name, including some he hadn't seen in over a year.
Allen also kept up his reputation for being quick with the football analogies. When asked about Thompson's late entry into the campaign, Allen replied, "what they are trying to do is put together an expansion franchise in the middle of the season."
Towards the end of his 2006 campaign, Allen often tried to avoid questions from reporters. But McDonnell and Allen, who will serve as co-chairs of Thompson's Virginia campaign, stood for nearly 30 minutes answering reporters' questions.
Question: What does Allen think of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, who is also a Republican candidate for president?
Answer: Allen likes Giuliani and would support him if he were the nominee. But Allen fears some of Giuliani's views on abortion and gay rights could cost him votes from some conservatives in a general election.
"There is a concern there could be 2 or 3 percent who normally would vote for us, wouldn't if there were a certain candidate who had certain stances on the issues," said Allen, adding that could be enough to doom the GOP ticket's chances to win a competitive state like Ohio.
Question: Does Allen or McDonnell think former governor Mark R. Warner, a Democratic candidate for the Senate in 2008, can be beat next year?
Answer: They do (especially if Thompson is the Republican nominee for president) But during a three-minute discussion about the Senate race, neither McDonnell nor Allen mentioned former governor James S. Gilmore III, who is widely expected to be a GOP candidate. "It's still early, who knows who our nominee will be," Allen said after being asked whether he thinks Gilmore will be the nominee.
Neither Allen nor McDonnell talked about their plans for 2009.
Over the weekend, McDonnell said he is likely to be a candidate for governor in 2009, even if Allen is in the race. McDonnell's staff has also been insistent that their boss is running irrespective of Allen's plans.
Allen blushed when a reporter asked McDonnell about his printed comments over the weekend. "We're both for Fred Thompson in 2008, and that is what we are focusing on," Allen said. "Bob and I are good friends, and we have the same philosophy."
November 13, 2007; 2:38 PM ET
Categories: Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , Election 2009 , George F. Allen , James Gilmore III , Mark Warner , Tim Craig
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