Wilder began with the situation in Iraq. While he went on to mention other issues, the emphasis was clearly on Webb’s credentials as military expert and his willingness to offer new leadership in the U.S. Senate that would challenge the Bush administration’s failed war policy.
Wilder spoke of the billions being spent in Iraq “every week,” then brought up the fact that FEMA just recently turned down calls to offer aid to flood victims in Richmond’s soggy lower Battery Park neighborhood. The implication seemed to be that the federal government would have money for such problems were it not for the quagmire in Iraq.
Both men are decorated veterans: Wilder served in Korea; Webb in Vietnam.
Wilder was asked why he did not wait until the 11th hour -- the election is still 13 days away -- to make his endorsement of Webb, as he did for Governor Tim Kaine in the gubernatorial contest last year. Wilder laughed, saying it had come somewhat later than what Webb’s camp might have wanted. The room laughed with him.
Webb got the bigger laugh by cracking that it was more like “a 10:30 endorsement.”In the hallway outside the conference room, the two lingered to answer more questions from the scribes. Given his perceived advantage in Northern Virginia -- according to the opinion polls -- Webb was asked if he is planning to spend more time in Richmond and the Tidewater area in the days remaining.
Webb indicated that he would be doing exactly that, saying, “Richmond is a principal battleground.”
Wilder also said he would be actively campaigning for Webb in the days leading up to Nov. 7. Asked about the Marshall-Newman amendment, Wilder said he will vote against it, characterizing the effort to change Virginia’s constitution an unnecessary intrusion into private matters.