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George Allen Seeks to Avoid Abortion Bill Controversy

Steve Helber/Associated Press
As former Virginia Govs. Tim Kaine (left) and George Allen vie for the state’s open Senate seat, Allen has been steering clear of the ruckus over an abortion-related bill in the state Legislature.

This week’s scheduled adjournment of the Virginia legislative session can’t come soon enough for George Allen.

The Republican Senate candidate was left powerless to change the conversation over the past two weeks as controversial social issues enveloped Richmond’s Capitol Square. Leading up to today’s presidential primary in the commonwealth, the uproar over abortion-related legislation that’s received national attention continued to bubble over the weekend, as more than two dozen women’s rights protesters were arrested outside the state Capitol on Saturday.

The bill has been mocked on late-night TV, and Allen has wanted no part of it. The former governor and ex-Senator is seeking his old job on Capitol Hill and is expected to face former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) in November.

The Allen campaign has sought to make Kaine’s “unabashed support” of President Barack Obama the election’s No. 1 issue, but keeping the race on message has been made more difficult amid the culture wars in Richmond and Washington, D.C.

“When you’re running for federal office, the one thing you always have to do is tip-toe around the state Legislature because you just never know how much dung they’re going to leave on the field,” one Republican strategist in the state said.

Allen was silent on the controversial bill, which was ultimately passed by the state Senate on Feb. 28 and by the state House on Thursday and requires that “every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging and be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her fetus prior to the abortion.” As the bill made its way through the General Assembly, Allen’s campaign sought to talk about anything else.

The Allen campaign released a Web video on Feb. 16 — two days after the ultrasound bill passed the state House — that again tied Kaine, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and an early endorser of Obama in 2007, to the president and the 2009 stimulus bill. Allen wrote an op-ed on Feb. 23 — the day the ultrasound bill passed out of a state Senate committee — on gas prices.

Allen’s events in recent weeks have included participating in two parades in Alexandria, speaking at GOP dinners and emceeing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (Va.) annual campaign breakfast Friday.

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