Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
New Allen ad features Marine mother who gave him her son’s dog tags in 2006 campaign
If you’ve followed George Allen’s campaigns since at least the 2006 Senate race, you’ve probably heard of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Jason Redifer.
Redifer, 19, was killed in Iraq in early 2005. His mother, Rhonda Winfield, approached Allen at a campaign stop in his 2006 campaign for re-election to the Senate and gave him her son’s dog tags, saying she felt Allen stood for things her son believed in.
This year, with Allen running again for that Senate seat against Democrat Tim Kaine, Winfield is again helping Allen’s campaign, this time with a TV ad.
The new spot, which began airing Tuesday night, is 60 seconds long, instead of the usual 30 seconds for campaign ads, the campaign said.
In it, Winfield describes how she heard of her son’s death, and says Allen sent her a handwritten note of condolence. She wore her son’s dog tags to an Allen speech and, she says in the ad, “just at that moment I was so moved, that I took Jason’s dog tags off my neck and I handed them to him and he still has those dog tags to this day.”
You can see the ad at www.virginiavoices.com. That’s the site the campaign uses for testimonials about Allen and issues.
In response, Democrats sent a statement from Courtney Lynch, herself a Marine veteran and a former candidate for the U.S. Senate race.
“I am sure that like all Americans, George Allen is grateful for the service of our men and women in uniform, but I remain concerned about his commitment to the benefits they’ve earned based on his previous years in the Senate,” Lynch wrote. “It’s troubling that often, when presented with an opportunity to boost funds for health care for our veterans and equipment for our troops, George Allen did not vote to provide the support they needed. I also continue to be concerned about George Allen’s lack of specifics to prevent harmful sequestration cuts that would jeopardize Virginia’s economy, and his all cuts approach to the budget that could risk promises that have been made to veterans like me across the commonwealth.”