Here’s a quote from Rosalind S. Helderman’s article.
“Webb, whose early opposition to the war has been a driving force behind his candidacy, said he opposes setting deadlines for redeployment and instead suggested that with his national security experience, he could have persuaded Kerry (D-Mass.) and other Democrats not to pursue the Senate vote. Webb is a former Marine and served as secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan.”
Webb said, in the article:
"I don't think an artificial timeline emanating from the Congress is a workable concept," Honestly, if I were in the Senate, I would have been able to talk to people about perhaps different ways of looking at this."
George Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, promptly jumped at the chance to go negative and accuse Webb of “flip flopping” because Webb dared to go public with his disagreement with some Democrats.
Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Webb is not a flip flopper. His strategy for how to get out of the mess in Iraq has been posted on his website for a while. It involves engaging other Middle Eastern countries who have a stake in stabilizing the region and bringing in participation from our global allies who also are interested in seeing that area of the world stable and free of terrorism. He’d like to see a true coalition committed to a responsible withdrawal that leaves the world safer, not more vulnerable to terrorism.
Although Webb argued even before the invasion that Iraq was the wrong war, once we were there, he never said anything about timelines or cutting and running. As a former secretary of the Navy and Annapolis graduate, he knows that would be an irresponsible solution to the mess this reckless administration got us into.
Wadhams and Allen know Webb’s real position. However, they will try to paint him with the same tired slogan that he is just another flipping flopping Democrat. But the paint on that brush faded long ago. It’s an old, dried up argument that won’t work against Webb. The truth is that publicly airing his disagreement over policy with Kerry was the best thing Webb could have done for himself in Virginia.
He just established himself as an independent thinker who will stand up to even those whose support he needs. He’s not a yes man. I think his campaign staff needs to drive that point home in their campaign message. Unlike George Allen, who voted 97 percent of the time with this unpopular president, Webb will fight for what he knows to be right whether it’s the convenient thing to do or not.
That will play very well in Virginia, where voters are increasingly independent-minded moderates. In fact, staying true to what you know to be right would play well anywhere in the country. It’s what Democrats have been begging their leaders to do for a long time. And it’s what voters will reward in general elections.