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Allen speeds toward Nov. 7
In town for race, senator says Iraq, terrorism are key issues
U.S. Sen. George Allen jokes with race fans early Sunday at the Martinsville Speedway.
Monday, October 23, 2006
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Bulletin Staff Writer
U.S. Sen. George Allen might have been disappointed that a Virginia resident didn't win Sunday's SUBWAY 500, but he said he's not disappointed with the way his campaign for re-election is going because voters are now focusing on the issues.
The Republican senator, who was in Martinsville on Sunday to watch the race, said afterward that as his own race with Democratic challenger Jim Webb winds down, the significant issues of the campaign are more evident.
"People are focused on ideas," he said, "because people care about the issues."�
One of the most controversial of those issues is the war with Iraq. Allen's record shows that he has sided with President Bush almost every step of the way on the war, which Allen now says may require a new strategy.
"Progress (in Iraq) has been too slow," he said, adding that he has been working closely with U.S. Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, on the issue. "We need to adjust and adapt."�
That adjustment, he said, should be geared toward putting the power to govern into the hands of the Iraqis as quickly as possible.
"The same old strategy is going to get the same old results," he said, referring to the continuing insurgency. "The Iraqis need to take control of their own destiny."�
Part of Allen's strategy, he said, would be to work more closely with the Shiite and Sunni leadership, trying to stop the violence and forge an effective government, one that can prevent what he describes as the worst possible scenario in Iraq: A sanctuary for terrorists.
If the United States leaves before that stable government is in place, Iraq would become a "safe haven" for terrorist organizations, he said, adding that an "oil-rich" al-Qaida cannot be allowed to develop.
Allen said if al-Qaida could accomplish what it has working from a poor country like Afghanistan, "imagine what it could do with the revenue from oil."�
"There can be no forfeit in Iraq," he said.
Although the war in Iraq may get the headlines, Allen said the war on terrorism is an issue no one can forget about.
The threat of terrorism is real, Allen said, adding that the recent plot to blow up airplanes that was foiled in Britain is a good example of just how real that threat is.
The country can never lower its guard, he said, and must provide the necessary intelligence gathering and surveillance to keep Americans safe.
Allen, who was elected to the Senate in 2000, said he is proud of his record in Washington.
Keeping taxes off Internet access is an issue on which he's taken a leadership role, he said.
"That's something everyone can relate to," he said, adding that without the work he and others have done to stop it, Internet users could be facing an 18-percent tax.
According to Allen's Web site, the Senate passed his Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act in 2004, legislation that extends the ban on multiple and discriminatory taxation on the Internet until Oct. 31, 2007. The bill specifically bans three types of taxes that single out the Internet, including regressive taxes on Internet access, multiple taxation (for example, by two or more states) of a product or service bought over the Internet, and discriminatory taxes that treat Internet purchases differently from other types of sales.
Also, Allen said his work on obtaining funding for nanotechnology research is vital to progress in many areas, from energy to medicine.
According to a science Web site, nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling and manipulating matter at this small scale.
Allen said he has helped invest "billions of dollars" into this research and is particularly interested in its capacity to find cures for diseases.
One of the most recent initiatives Allen has introduced, he said, is an increase in the death gratuity (a lump-sum payment) to next of kin of soldiers killed in combat or on combat-related duty.
"I did that the first hour of this (109th Congressional) session (which began last year)," he said. "It (the death gratuity) was a paltry $12,000. We raised it to $100,000.
"That expressed the sentiment of a grateful nation," he added.
With the campaign winding down quickly, Allen said he was pleased to recently receive endorsements from several organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans associations and the Virginia Black Farmers Association.
"Those are good endorsements," he said. "And when they (voters) look at my record, we're very confident we'll be victorious on Nov. 7."�
Allen, who said he "loved" the race, said he was hoping Denny Hamlin would win on Sunday, but Hamlin finished second to Jimmie Johnson. Also, he said he was excited to see Ward Burton, who has not raced in two years, back on the track.
"But I felt bad for Jeff Burton (Ward's brother)," he said. Jeff Burton, who went into the race the points leader, had engine problems and finished 42nd.
Hamlin and the Burton brothers are all Virginians.