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Former Va governor praises McCain at Washington County GOP event

Allen speaks at Lincoln Day dinner in Hagerstown

Allen speaks at Lincoln Day dinner in Hagerstown

April 16, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Former Virginia Gov. George F. Allen wove taxes, a GOP icon and a jab at the opposing party together Tuesday while addressing Washington County Republicans.

On the deadline for Americans to file tax returns, Allen quoted Ronald Reagan: "Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but Democrats feel every day is April 15."

Allen made other references to Reagan and Abraham Lincoln in what doubled as a stump speech for U.S. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

Allen, who served with McCain in the Senate, held up his colleague as a practical conservative, smart on fiscal restraint and eager to wield a line-item veto.

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The crowd at Fountain Head Country Club applauded Allen when he described McCain's focus on keeping U.S. troops in Iraq as long as necessary.

McCain wants troops to return home "in honor and victory, not retreat and defeat," Allen said.

Allen was the featured speaker at the Washington County Republican Central Committee's annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

A committee announcement of the event pegged Allen as "a prospective McCain running mate."

In an interview, though, Allen was more circumspect. He said McCain hasn't reached the point of picking a vice presidential candidate.

"He'll make a decision in due time, but I don't think there is actually any list yet," he said.

Asked if he would accept the position if McCain offered it, Allen said he'll help the party's nominee however he can.

Allen, the son of a legendary Washington Redskins head coach, illustrated his loyalty with a football reference.

"If he wants me to be his blocking back, I'll be his blocking back," he said.

During Allen's speech, he made clear the role of sports in his life. He said his family valued "the four F's - faith, family, freedom and football, and not necessarily in that order."

To inspire local Republicans, Allen borrowed an auto-racing reference from NASCAR.

"We need to start our engines," he said, advocating an injection of new ideas.

He framed the GOP as "the party of personal empowerment," while painting Democrats as champions of "sapping dependence on a nanny, meddling government."

While Allen was governor, Virginia abolished parole. On Tuesday, he mocked some of the excuses that might be made to explain criminal behavior - the defendant had "tough teachers," or was bottle fed, or "potty training was traumatic."

He spoke in favor of a nuclear energy as part of an answer to foreign-oil dependence and advocated environmentally conscious features for all new government buildings.

Countering the argument that Americans are addicted to oil, Allen said, "Americans are addicted to freedom - freedom of movement."

Allen predicted that McCain soon will talk more about an energy strategy.

Later, Allen - who supported Fred Thompson's presidential campaign until Thompson withdrew - took questions from the audience.

He didn't directly answer one person who asked about the GOP's biggest shortcoming.

Instead, Allen urged the party to be "about motivating people, inspiring people for ideas," rather than partisanship.

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