While many will tune in hoping to see yet another explosive gaffe in this senatorial race, my guess is both candidates will try to look as appealing as possible to what they perceive as their political bases. In a race judged to be a tossup, energizing the base is Politics 101. Neither of them wants to look snippy tonight.
Allen’s job will be to recover from the avalanche of bad publicity his infamous gaffes set in motion. Two of Allen’s former strengths, his loyalty to the Bush administration and his own nice guy image, have been dented recently. Tonight he needs to do more than focus on damage control. Allen needs to convince moderate Republicans that he is still a far better choice than his former-Republican opponent (Webb served in the Reagan administration in the ‘80s).
Allen (depicted right) will probably talk about his days as governor whenever he can. He will say Virginians have known him for a long time, therefore we can trust him.
Webb’s first job will be to convince traditional liberals that his Libertarian inclinations and his working class roots have made him at long last a true Democrat, who will represent their interests a lot better than Allen will. Still, Webb’s strength is his military expertise. So, he must clearly demonstrate to independents and Democrats that his leadership in the Senate on military matters will be a boon to honest efforts to end the disastrous war in Iraq ASAP.
Webb (depicted left) will probably say, as many ways as he can, that we can’t trust the bunglers and profiteers who went into Iraq -- under false pretenses -- to be able to get us out of there.