From a recent Rich Lowry article in National Review ~
He is about to embark on a challenging journey; running for reelection in Virginia this year, then - assuming he doesn't founder on unseen shoals - for the Republican nomination in 2008. This will be the personal test Allen has always been, consciously or not, building toward. In Giants Stadium terms, now he's in the pre-game, when the stadium speakers play upbeat rock music and the players chat and stretch; soon enough he will be in the real game, when the roar of the crowd is so intense that down on the field it almost feels like it could knock you over, and players either succeed - or fail.
That stark contrast of success or failure, win or lose, advance or go home, is what Allen grew up with as the oldest son of the Hall of Fame L.A. Rams and Washington Redskins coach George Allen. Senator Allen thrills to the fight, but it would be easy to miss it at first blush. He is one of the most infectiously likable politicians in America, a natural at putting people at ease and getting them to laugh. He makes whomever he's talking to seem his only concern in the world, and is a master at finding common ground for small talk.
It is not hard to do a calculation that says at this early stage in the '08 race George Allen has perhaps a better chance of winning the nomination than any other Republican. He combines the people skills of a Bill Clinton, with the convictions of a Ronald Reagan, with the non-threatening persona of a George W. Bush circa 2000, prior to his becoming a hate-figure for the Left. Profile writers often invoke Reagan and Bush in describing Allen, but the senator is emphatically his own man, with a personal history that has forged a rare and particular political talent, blending amiability with a streak of competitive ruthlessness in a way that makes him, at age 53, one of the nation's top politicians.
"My two political heroes," he says, "are Ronald Reagan and Thomas Jefferson. I look at Reagan as a modern-day Thomas Jefferson. The priciples enunciated in his writings are the spirit of this country and its founding. Ronald Reagan then applied those principles to the challenges we face these days. Those two had, as I do, a trust of free people and free enterprise. They are the ones that don't like a burdensome, costly, meddlesome government and they are the ones who were optimistic about the individual human spirit."
After winning the 1993 Virginia governor's race with 58% of the vote, the biggest margin for any gubernatorial candidate since 1961, he kept a "Promise Book" to track the progress of his campaign pledges. He knew he could stampede the Democratic legislature on abolishing parole and did. Virginia's crime rate dropped faster than the national rate. He lost a fight over a $2.1 billion tax cut, something he hadn't campaigned on, but pushed through his welfare-reform plan. Allen vetoed a weakened Democratic version - one of 99 vetoes. "The legislature gave me a baseball bat," he says proudly (and he has kept that bat to this day). Democrats capitulated and accepted all of Allen's key requirements, giving Virginia reform prior to the federal version. The state's welfare rolls declined by half.
His Senate career hasn't been bereft of action. His signature issue has been opposing taxes on the Internet. He opposed them as governor, making him a lonely man among his fellow governors, who were hungry for the revenue. He has been stalwart in keeping the Internet tax-free. It fits what have been his themes as senator, technology and competitiveness. It's an interest he acquired as governor, as Northern Virginia became a high-tech haven, and aides say he likes to have off-beat tech stories included in his daily political clips. (Maybe he reads bloggie, too!).
If Giuliani and McCain are in a competition for the moderate slot in the race, Allen and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney seem the top contenders for the conservative spot. Allen, a former conservative governor from a conservative state, probably has the early advantage. "He is right now best positioned in the sweet spot of Republican politics," is how Grover Norquist puts it. "He is on good terms with every piece of the coalition."