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George Allen's Rebuilding Project

George Allen is trying to soften his image. This week, the former and would-be future Virginia senator unveiled his first television ads of the general election, two soft-focus spots featuring female testimonials of his character.

"A good man, a good husband, a good father," says longtime friend Betsy Beamer in one of the ads.

As Allen tries to make his way back to the Senate seat Virginia voters exiled him from six years ago -- in a reelection campaign derailed by the term "macaca," the ethnic slur heard around the political world -- Allen is a changed and chastened candidate. His evolution is the subject of this week's National Journal cover story, available only to subscribers.

Gone is much of the swagger that marked his ascent to national prominence, the bravado and good ol' boy authenticity that once drew rave reviews from conservative pundits and favorable comparisons to the likes of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

To borrow from the sports analogies that Allen, the son of a Hall of Fame NFL coach by the same name, so loves, he can look at times very much like the ballplayer who missed his last shot or dropped the last pass thrown his way: tight, tentative, cautious, even constrained.

The piece continues here and available to subscribers.

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