Saturday, September 09, 2006

Nancy Reagan Wants To Stop Webb Campaign From Using Clip of Ronnie

The sainted memory of Ronald Reagan has become an issue in the Virginia Senate race.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan on Friday asked Virginia Democratic Senate candidate James Webb to not use a television commercial that shows former president Ronald Reagan praising Webb, his former Navy secretary.

In a letter faxed to Webb at 5 p.m., the chief of staff of the Reagan Library in California urged him to not use footage from a speech by the former president at the Naval Academy in 1985. Webb is trying to unseat Sen. George Allen (R) in November's election. The speech lauded Webb and his achievements. ...

The ad shows Reagan saying: "James's gallantry as a Marine officer in Vietnam won him the Navy Cross and other decorations." An announcer's voice continues as Reagan's image morphs into pictures of Webb as a Marine.

Webb's campaign immediately rejected the criticism and said it intended to proceed as planned by running the commercial in Norfolk, Roanoke and Northern Virginia. Spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd accused Allen's campaign of playing partisan politics.

"It doesn't imply an endorsement," Todd said. "It's Reagan in his own words. What Reagan said about Jim Webb, that belongs to Jim Webb, frankly."

The library's letter could hurt Webb's effort to woo moderates by wrapping himself in Reagan's legacy. But it could also give much broader attention to the ad, which Webb has paid less than $100,000 to run in just three television markets for a limited time. ...

Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams said he hoped "the Webb campaign would respect the clear request of Mrs. Reagan."

But he declined to say whether Allen would remove a photo from his campaign Web site that shows Reagan and a young Allen shaking hands. It appears next to a Reagan quote.

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