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Allen Comments Draw Fierce Backlash

Sen. George Allen, R-Va., has gotten a lashing from newspaper editorial boards and the Indian-American community even after his apology for calling his opponent's campaign worker "macaca."

In addition to a scathing New York Times editorial, Virginia papers such as the Roanoke Times, the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot and the Charlottesville Daily Progress have spoken out against Allen's choice of words and questioned his future political, including possible White House, aspirations.

The U.S.-Indian Political Action Committee (USINPAC) told Allen in a phone call Tuesday that his comments have angered the Indian-American community. The group is hosting a conference this afternoon with the senator and other leaders in their community together to discuss the matter.

Allen's campaign on Monday defended the Republican's flip comments he made about his opponent's campaign scout as a joke about the man's hair, but the Democratic volunteer said it appeared to be aimed at the fact he was of Indian descent.

"This fellow over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca or whatever his name is, he's with my opponent," Allen said to the crowd during a rally in western Virginia.

S.R. Sidarth, 20, who was videotaping the event for candidate Jim Webb said the name that sounded like "Macaca," a type of monkey.

Macaca is a genus of moneys including macaques. The name also could be spelled Makaka, which is a city in South Africa.

"I would never want to demean him as an individual. I do apologize if he's offended," Allen told the Washington Post.

Allen told the newspaper he didn't know what "macaca" means; he said the word resembles the term "mohawk," which his campaign had nicknamed Sidarth because of his hairstyle.

The Hotline reports that three Virginia Republicans say that some Allen campaign aides and advisers insist that the word was a "made-up, off-the-cuff neologism that these aides occasionally used to refer to Sidarth" long before last Friday. Allen, apparently, heard staffers use the term and "picked it up."

Webb's campaign distributed a video clip of Friday's appearance to reporters, which shows Allen telling the crowd: "Let's give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Allen told the Washington Post that by the comment welcoming him to America, he meant: "Just to the real world. Get outside the Beltway and get to the real world."

Sidarth, who was born in Virginia, said he felt the senator "was singling me out as a person of color when the rest of the audience was Caucasian."

"The kid has a name," Webb communications director Kristian Denny Todd said of Sidarth. "This is trying to demean him, to minimize him as a person."

An Allen campaign spokesman said Sidarth was not the only nonwhite person at the rally in Breaks, near the Kentucky border.

Spokesman Dick Wadhams said the senator called him a variation of "Mohawk," the nickname Allen campaign staffers gave Sidarth, whose hair is closely cropped around the temples and above the ears.

Allen called attention to Sidarth simply to welcome him to "a place in Virginia Webb has never been to and probably never will be to," Wadhams said.

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