$1 million spent on TV campaign for Webb

RICHMOND – National Democrats are placing nearly $1 million in television advertising for U.S. Senate hopeful Jim Webb, opening with a commercial spotlighting Republican incumbent George Allen’s macaca moment.

The ad could be on the air today in the state’s three biggest broadcast markets – Hampton Roads, Richmond and Northern Virginia.

Sources said Monday that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, political arm of the Senate Democratic caucus, is paying for the commercial. Spokesman Phil Singer had no comment.

The TV buy – described as just less than $1 million – is a long-awaited lifeline for Webb, who is even with Allen in recent polls. Though he trails in fundraising, Webb has closed the gap in the wake of Allen miscues.

This includes Allen’s use of an obscure racial slur – “macaca” – to describe an Indian-American volunteer for Webb. Allen said he made up the word, which refers to a genus of monkey. Widely circulated video from the incident was woven into the Democratic ad.

The 30-second spot also refers to Allen’s opposition to a Democratic budget amendment to purchase body armor for troops assigned to Iraq.

The commercial, to be most heavily broadcast in vote-rich Northern Virginia, notes Allen’s resistance to an increase in the federal minimum wage and contributions to his campaign from oil companies.

The Allen campaign said the ad, running after U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., pledged $2 million to the DSCC, is evidence that Webb is captive to liberal out-of-state interests.

“This is further proof that Jim Webb has been bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton,” said Allen strategist Christopher J. LaCivita.

A spokeswoman for the Webb campaign could not be reached for comment.

The commercial was produced for the DSCC by Jim Mulhall, an adviser to then-U.S. Sen. Charles S. Robb, D-Va., in his losing campaign to Allen in 2000. Mulhall declined to comment.

Jeff E. Schapiro is a staff writer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.