Jim Gilmore Explores 2008 Bid

Add Jim Gilmore to the 2008 White House spelunking society.

James S. Gilmore III, a former Virginia governor and chairman of the Republican National Committee, announced today that he would form a committee to explore a presidential bid in 2008, saying the Republican field lacked a “committed conservative” capable of making a credible campaign for the White House.

“A void exists,” Mr. Gilmore said in an interview. “There is just no conservative right now who can mount a national campaign.”

Mr. Gilmore, 57, was governor for one term, all that Virginia allows. He also served one year as chairman of the Republican National Committee before being forced out by the White House after clashing with Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser.

While Mr. Gilmore is not particularly well-known nationally, he and his associates argued that there might be a path here for a little-known candidate who could corral support of the party’s critically important conservative wing.

While John McCain and Mitt Romney are both trying to position themselves as the main conservative candidate in the race, both face obstacles. McCain has alienated the Religious Right in countless ways in has annoyed fiscal conservatives with McCain-Feingold. Romney is a Massachusets Mormon.

With another former Virginia governor, George Allen, almost surely out of the running after a disastrous re-election campaign, Gilmore has a shot. He may not be well known to the public but he’s well known to the party apparatus from which he must put together a team and do his initial fundraising. He’s definitely a longshot, though, and isn’t the most charismatic guy in the world.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    …isn’t the most charismatic guy in the world.

    Neither is George W. Bush. In fact, of the last eight Republicans to get elected President, only one could really be considered charismatic.

  2. James Joyner says:

    True enough. Eisenhower had the conquering war hero thing going for him but I gather he was more amiable than traditionally charismatic. (He was well before my time.) But neither Nixon nor either of the Bushes were that charismatic.

  3. Richard says:

    Jeez. When I heard this news while driving into work I almost ran off he road. Jim Gilmore’s legacy was being elected as Virginia’s Governor with a smoke-and-mirrors campaign to eliminate the car tax, and anyone who thinks what went well considering promises versus results also believes the Iraq war was a great cakewalk idea and has made us all safer. I want whatever Gilmore and anyone who thinks hes presidential material is smoking. Not that the bar can be lower considering the current occupant of the Oval… Holy Moly! Gilmore could not get elected for dogcatcher in his home state. He makes George Allen look good– which also could send me off the road. Regarding this GOP gene pool for 2008, in the words of Doug Wilder if this is the cream of the crop, God help the milk! Beam me somewhere, please!

  4. DC Loser says:

    My thoughts upon reading this was identical to Richard’s. Only Virginians who were here during Gilmore’s term really can understand the angst over the car tax repeal and the resulting fiscal fiasco with county budgets. Gilmore as Prez? Yeah, right.

  5. Tano says:

    Sorry James, but anyone who can write this line: “Gilmore has a shot” might as well just say “I haven’t a clue about politics”.

  6. James Joyner says:


    Governors, generals, and billionaires pretty much all have “a shot.” They have an instant credibility which allows them to get heard. Jimmy Carter was unknown in 1976 and won it all. Ross Perot had a nice boomlet in 1992. People were begging Colin Powell to run in 1996 and 2000. Howard Dean looked like he was going to run away with the Democratic nomination in 2000, even though almost no one had heard of him in 1999. Wes Clark had a shot in 2004 and is looking at another in 2008.

    I wasn’t in Virginia when Gilmore was governor so have no strong impression of him, other than some appearances on the Sunday shows as RNC Chair. He seemed pleasant enough, although hardly inspiring.

    There’s a race to be “the conservative alternative” in the GOP field for 2008 and there’s no obvious front-runner. Gilmore has as good a shot at getting that title as any of the presumptive candidates.

  7. Tano says:

    Thanks for clarifying James. I guess you really dont have a clue about Gilmore. He was a terrible governor. In fact, a lot of the Mark Warner buzz came from the impression that he cleaned up Gilmore’s mess. Gilmore was also that rare person to have been a party chairman for only one year. He took on the job while still governor (at a time when many had doubts about him being able to do one job at a time). When his term was up, and he could devote full time to the RNC, he was pushed out. Perhaps he showed his skill by helping to insure that a democrat would succeed him in his own office.

  8. James says:

    Wow, Tano. You’re a jerk.

    And saying Gilmore isn’t charismatic is not true! I’ve known him for a good 10 years, met him at some politial rally, and he’s a very funny guy. All I can say is, Go Gilmore!

  9. John says:

    Mr. Joyner,

    The only smoke and mirrors you will have to deal with in regards to this Gilmore announcement are those created by the Democrats of Virginia.

    For instance, there never was a budget shortfall in Virginia, EVER. If there was a slowdown it was from the recession at the end of the Clinton administration and, of course, 9/11. Remember that both of these affected all 50 states.

    To clarify that there was no budget deficit, just two weeks after the state’s largest tax increase ever, and well before any tax dollars were collected and accounted for, Warner announced that there was actually a $544 million surplus in the state budget. This was very different language than just weeks before when he essentially claimed Virginia was bankrupt. Also, over Mark Warner’s term, the state budget increased from ~$40 billion to ~$67 billion. How can a state budget increase at such an incredible rate when it is “in shambles”? Smoke and mirrors maybe?

    Democrats in Virginia will also attack “Virginia’s credit rating”. If there was a credit rating issue, why was it never brought up until Mark Warner wanted to raise taxes? Why was it never brought up during Gilmore’s administration? The answer is simple: it never existed.

    The attacks on Gilmore are nothing more than Mark Warner attacks on the last popular Republican Governor of Virginia. Do not be fooled into believing their one sided ramblings. It’s essentially like listening to a broken record. There are accusations but no facts supporting them.

    Governor Gilmore was a fantastic Governor. He cuts taxes for all Virginians, stayed true to his word and promises, revitalized the education system in Virginia (hired over 4,000 new teachers in 4 years, cut all state university tuitions by 20% making college affordable to all Virginians), and also led a forerunner commission to the department of homeland security.

    On a side note, Many democrats will criticize his homeland security credentials. They obviously have not read his committee’s near 1,500 page report on terrorism that preceded the 9/11 attacks. Of his 167 recommendations made, 145 of them have been put into the department of homeland security.

    This post will be attacked. It will be attacked by the same individuals who have been putting out lies for five years now. Just remember, they tell no truth in what they say.

    Governor Gilmore is the only true conservative considering a Presidential run and he will indeed fill the void missing in America today.

    Go Gilmore!