Allen said he is opposed to racial profiling but declined to support affirmative action, favoring "affirmative recruitment" instead. He earned nods from the crowd when he spoke about the need for increased support for historically black colleges and the importance of the Voting Rights Act.
He said that he would do a better job of keeping taxes low and that the United Nations should take the lead in dealing with the human rights issues in Darfur. On Iraq, he said, progress has been too slow.
"I've enjoyed the give-and-take here," he told the crowd of about 200. "Do we agree on every issue? No. Am I perfect? No. I respectfully ask for your support and your consideration. I look forward to joining hands with you all."
Moments later, he joined the group's president and a phalanx of television cameras to fill out the membership application and write a personal check for $750 to become the group's latest lifetime member.
Webb, who followed Allen for his hour of questions, sparked immediate, raucous applause by opening his talk with a promise: "I'm going to bite the bear before the bear bites me," he said. "I'm announcing I'm going to sign up for a lifetime membership in the NAACP."
Webb received a warmer reception than Allen, despite concern in the black community about his position on affirmative action.