Jim Webb’s supporters in the lathered up audience cried, “Foul! Low-blow!
Webb, who until this moment in the long campaign had punched and blocked punches with a steady, practiced restraint, gathered himself to respond.
Saturday afternoon at a rally in Annandale, Webb cut loose with his sharpest counterpunch of the entire fight. This time his full weight was behind the blow. The Daily Press reports, "Webb swings back at Allen’s literary criticism in Va. Senate race", by Matthew Barakat (AP):
“Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb on Saturday offered his most stinging criticism of the campaign against Republican Sen. George Allen, as Webb sought to defend himself from criticism of sexually explicit passages in his fictional novels.
“‘I have written about what I have seen and that is the duty of a writer,’ Webb said to 300 cheering supporters during a rally at a Fairfax County middle school. ‘Maybe George Allen doesn't understand that because I'm told George Allen doesn't read books.’”
“...Webb has generally been reserved in his campaign speeches, but not so on Saturday.
“‘I’ve lived in the real world, and represented the real world in my writing. I saw its ugliness while George Allen was hanging out on a dude ranch,’ he said. [Webb] said Allen’s most recent attack ‘has shown his true character’ and said ‘government should not be in the hands of unprincipled, small-minded, power-hungry character assassins.’”
Now both fighters have been hit hard, both have been bloodied. Now they know that in the remaining time of their winner-take-all contest it will be a toe-to-toe slugfest. That means we will see which man can best stand the bright lights heat of the crucible. Whatever measure of competitive spirit still lurks in these two middle-aged former college athletes -- Allen played football; Webb was a boxer -- will be summoned and brought to bear.
All America is watching this match-up. There is a lot on the line. At this desk, I like Webb’s chances better today than I have at any point in this race.
Update: To see and hear some of Webb’s remarks in Annandale, click here for a YouTube video.