Allen pushes jobs to carry him across finish line in Virginia

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Photo - Former Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, left, and former U.S. Sen. George Allen shake hands aftera debate in Hot Springs, Va. ( AP Photo)
Former Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, left, and former U.S. Sen. George Allen shake hands aftera debate in Hot Springs, Va. ( AP Photo)
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Republican George Allen is looking to refocus Virginia's tight U.S. Senate contest on jobs in hopes of making a last-minute push in a race he currently trails in.

Democrat Tim Kaine holds a lead over Allen of a couple percentage points heading into the final days of a contest that has stayed tight despite millions in spending by the campaigns and outside groups.

Allen plans to use the next six days to define himself as the candidate with the experience to create jobs while tearing down Kaine as an absentee governor in 2009, when he served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Allen trumpeted the charge against Kaine's DNC tenure in the final debate this month, insisting he turned his back on Virginia during the recession, and doubled-down on the criticism with an ad, and his campaign will build on that in the final days of the race. Kaine has shot back that Allen held similar duties when he was chairman of National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Kaine will take his campaign Wednesday to Hanover County, north of Richmond, and then to Culpeper and Fauquier counties on the edges of Northern Virginia. After weeks of events targeted specifically to seniors, minorities and women, Kaine has shifted to "meet and greets" intended to strike a bipartisan tone down the stretch.

Kaine did not respond to requests for comment.

Allen hopes to boost his exposure by appearing with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he returns to Virginia to campaign on Thursday. And Allen is keeping his schedule flexible to campaign with Romney if he returns to the Old Dominion before Nov. 6.

Slow to embrace Romney's candidacy, Allen has spoken more positively of the Republican hopeful as his standing has risen in Virginia lately.

Allen's campaign remains upbeat, even as he enters the final week of a race where his Democratic opponent holds an edge in the polls and in fundraising. But his campaign put out a fundraising email to out-of-state supporters Monday asking for "emergency donations" at a time when both Kaine and Allen called off campaign events due to the storm and were soliciting donations for relief efforts.

Despite trailing Kaine in fundraising, Allen has been aided by spending from outside groups, who have poured more money into Virginia than any other Senate race in the country.

"We continue to believe the race will be tight until the end," said Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis. "Republicans have greater enthusiasm than in 2008. Democrats can't say the same."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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