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Allen tackles issues in Culpeper
Tully Satre, 16, of Culpeper listens last night as U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., defends his opposition to proposed federal hate-crimes legislation that would add people's sexual orientation to protections regarding race, religion and gender.
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By EDIE GROSS
Normally seated behind the dais, Culpeper County Supervisor Sue Hansohn joined more than 100 people last night in the audience of the county board's meeting room for one of U.S. Sen. George Allen's town hall-style gatherings.
After allowing Allen some time to lay out his priorities in Washington, Hansohn shouted out the question undoubtedly on the minds of many in the room.
"Are you running for president in 2008?" she asked, eliciting applause from the crowd.
Allen, at ease in a faux-suede jacket and black cowboy boots--purchased that very day at Boot'Vil in Ruckersville, Va.--flashed a conciliatory smile before answering her.
"No comment," he said, grinning.
Allen, whose first term in the U.S. Senate is up this year, is among a half dozen or so Republicans considered presidential contenders in 2008.
And even though he won't say it aloud, his actions are the hallmark of a national candidate, appearing at Republican fundraising events in Iowa last weekend and at New Hampshire's annual GOP meeting this coming weekend.
In Culpeper yesterday, the former Virginia governor emphasized that he was there to hear from constituents.
And they obliged, passing on concerns on everything from the war in Iraq to roadside mowing.
Gardiner Mulford, a longtime Republican and Culpeper real estate broker, told Allen he was frustrated with Republicans in Washington.
"There's really no excuse why we haven't gotten the line item veto, a better immigration policy. We've controlled the White House, the Senate and Congress for six years now, and we're still not getting those things accomplished," said Mulford, who also said he didn't support the war in Iraq.
"I hope they [Republicans] can soon self-correct," he said.
Allen, who earlier stated that he supported giving the president line-item veto power and securing the country's borders, said he, too, would like lawmakers to accomplish more.
"I can understand people's frustrations," he said after the meeting. "I didn't go to the Senate to sit and wait for consensus and talk endlessly about things. I went to take action. And there's insufficient action in the Senate."
Tully Satre, 16, urged Allen to support a federal hate crimes bill that protects people on the basis of their sexual orientation in addition to race, religion and gender.