This year [senate candidate James] Webb, the Democratic challenger to George Allen, cites his ties to Reagan. A new commercial all but identifies Webb as Reagan's heir. The ad rates as a double blunder.
- Democrats uncertain of Webb's partisan bona fides will not be reassured by the Reagan-Webb connection. Analysts believe a candidate first must mobilize his base. Webb's public devotion to Reagan seems unlikely to stir Democratic passions.
- Reagan twice won Virginia with ease. He remains hugely popular here. If kind words about the Gipper might annoy hard-core Democrats, then they also might reassure the state's moderate mainstream. The Webb stratagem could have worked -- if Nancy Reagan had not denounced the ad. Other Reagan confidants joined the former first lady in calling on Webb to pull it. The exchange will make it much easier for pro-Reagan independents, pro-Reagan Democrats, and Republicans dismayed by their party's national performance to resist any temptation to rally to Webb. The Reagan team prefers Allen.
Webb has managed to irritate loyal Democrats and loyal Reaganauts. That's quite a feat for one blunder. That Ollie North would understand Webb's predicament only intensifies the pain of a self-inflicted wound.
Key word being blunder.