The Spectacle Blog

Stiff Webb

By on 6.29.06 | 6:02PM

Responding to the post below, a reader notes how awfully stiff the candidate is. Our American Spectator intern, Maggie McGlynn, and I had a chance to catch Jim Webb and Mark Warner this afternoon in Alexandria for a very brief press availability.

It appears someone has given Jim Webb a good talking to about presentation. His hands, feet, and face are fixed, as he gives short, controlled answers. Having Webb next to Warner reminded me of bumbling Linc Chafee next to John McCain in 2000 as Chafee ran for his late father's seat. Not a pretty contrast. Ms. McGlynn and I noted that when Webb was asked about supporting a possible presidential run by Mr. Warner, Warner literally grabbed Webb by the shoulders (in a friendly but awkward way), apparently to control any outbursts. Webb is a man on a tight leash.

His campaign, on the other hand, is not. I missed this flap earlier this week, but after George Allen's campaign questioned Webb's opposition to the flag amendment in a calm, policy-oriented way, Webb's campaign very defensively flew off the handle, with spokesman Steve Jarding claiming Allen was questioning his patriotism. Webb's guy went so far as to call Allen's team "cowards." It's as if you bumped a guy on the street and he turned around and slugged you. Webb is either nuts or making a calculated decision to take this thing nuclear right away so that Allen can't play nice.

Asked about his campaign's response, Webb called Jarding "a professional." But did Allen really implicitly question Webb's patriotism? "[Allen campaign manager] Wadhams is a guy who studied under Karl Rove. I think it's very clear what he was doing. I don't think I have to say anything more about it." Case closed. I guess we can stop asking questions.

We caught up with Webb's press secretary, Kristian Denny Todd, and asked if her campaign's response was disproportionate. "Not at all." Reporters asked her earlier if she thought Jarding's reaction was a little strong: "It's about time, if you ask me."

It should be interesting to see what happens when the press and Allen's campaign really start pressing buttons.

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