Former Sen. Allen supports Fred Thompson’s candidacy

Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is adjusting to life after the Senate, starting a political action committee (PAC) and finding other ways to stay busy.

So busy, in fact, Allen said this week he has no interest in running for chairman of the Virginia GOP or mounting another Senate run should Sen. John Warner (R) retire.
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“Not with the responsibilities I’ve taken on,” Allen said of his new PAC, the Good Government Action Fund, and his appointment as the Reagan Ranch Presidential Scholar for the Young America’s Foundation. “They would make that impossible.”

Just more than a year ago, Allen was considered by many Republicans to be the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February 2006, Allen won the usually telling straw poll with 22 percent.

But a failed Senate reelection bid, fraught with embarrassing mistakes including the infamous “Macaca” comment, ended his presidential bid before it got off the ground.

That has not kept Allen from following the current GOP field, and in an interview with The Hill, Allen offered his thoughts on those who have taken his place as Republican White House hopefuls.

Allen introduced former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) when the probable presidential candidate keynoted the state party’s gala earlier this month.

“I think [a Thompson candidacy] is good,” Allen said. “I would encourage him to do so.”

Though Allen said he is not yet endorsing a Thompson bid, he did say that to grassroots Republicans “who care about the party,” Thompson’s popularity indicates “there has been a bit of a void for someone with a proven conservative record.”

Allen said that while current front-runner and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani still is “America’s Mayor” and acted admirably following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his positions on gun control and abortion issues “concern some folks.”

Giuliani finished third in the 2006 CPAC straw poll with 12 percent.

Allen also said nice things about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), but he said McCain’s position on the immigration debate, or as Allen calls it, “the amnesty bill,” disqualifies him for many conservative voters.

“God, that just hurts him a great deal,” Allen said.

McCain finished second behind Allen in the 2006 CPAC poll with 20 percent.

The former senator added that while ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney “will have plenty of money,” the belief, real or perceived, that he is a Johnny-come-lately to his current positions on social issues hurts him with many GOPers.

“In fact, they are not the same as positions he took a year or so ago,” Allen said.

Romney had one of the poorer showings in the 2006 polls, finishing tied for sixth with Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) at 5 percent.

But Thompson, Allen said, is “resonating with people” because he espouses the “realization that all wisdom’s not in Washington — in fact, little wisdom’s in Washington.”

“I think Fred’s off to a very good start,” Allen said, pointing to recent polls that show Thompson’s numbers rising despite the fact that he is not an announced candidate.

Allen was complimentary of other candidates in the race, including another former Virginia governor, Jim Gilmore, but said, “other than those four [Thompson, Giuliani, McCain and Romney], none of the others seem to be catching fire.”

As for Allen, though he said he misses the give-and-take he enjoyed with Washington reporters, he said his new endeavors are keeping him busy and he is enjoying himself.

Despite rumors that circulated earlier this year that Allen was gauging interest in another Senate run should Warner retire, Allen insisted, “There was never anything to that.”

“I want John Warner to run again,” Allen said. “America and Virginia need John Warner to run again because of his experience.”

Allen also said he has no interest in running to replace outgoing Virginia GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie, who is leaving to take over for Dan Bartlett as senior adviser to President Bush.

A source with the state party said Charlie Judd, the current executive director hand-picked by Gillespie, and former Virginia Lt. Gov. John Hager, currently serving as an assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, have both entered the race to replace Gillespie.

The state central committee will meet next month and accept nominations from the floor for a new chairman. They will then vote to decide on their next state party leader.

The Virginia GOP source said Allen’s name has not been mentioned as a possible nominee.