If you didn’t realize onetime Virginia governor Jim Gilmore was still in the Presidential race, you can save the realization now because he withdrew yesterday – much to the chagrin of all 145 people who voted for him in Iowa (12) and New Hampshire (133.) But seriously, had he done more to round out his platform Jim may have received my support. On a lot of issues he was leading in the right direction but just as his abortive 2008 bid failed to catch fire so did his 2016 effort.
Gilmore had this to say about his exit:
“My campaign was intended to offer the gubernatorial experience, with the track record of a true conservative, experienced in national security, to unite the party.” Gilmore said, “My goal was to focus on the importance of this election as a real turning point, and to emphasize the dangers of continuing on a road that will further undermine America’s economy and weaken our national security.”
“Nonetheless, I will continue to express my concerns about the dangers of electing someone who has pledged to continue Obama’s disastrous policies,” Gilmore said. “And, I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that our next President is a free enterprise Republican who will restore our nation to greatness and keep our citizens safe.”
Alone among the remaining contenders as a military veteran, Gilmore also had an interesting tax plan that was the linchpin of his campaign. But jumping into the race in late July, when most people were contemplating a vacation and only a week or so before the first GOP debate, made what was already a tall task virtually impossible. One has to wonder what impact Gilmore may have had with an April or May announcement.
But Gilmore made a very salient point as he campaigned in New Hampshire:
“Every time they give Donald Trump 33 minutes on MSNBC, it’s like giving him $1 million. It’s wrong,” Gilmore said, pounding the table as his voice rose. “They’re shaping the race, they’re favoring candidates, and it’s been very detrimental to my campaign.”
Does that sound a little whiny? Perhaps: I think I could make the same case if my name were Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, or even Jeb Bush. Three of these gentlemen came into the race shortly after Donald Trump did (Jeb Bush got in the day before Trump announced) and all of them failed to make much of a splash thanks to the media blowtorch that is Trump. (Arguably, John Kasich’s campaign has suffered to some extent as well, although he timed his announcement just right to get on the stage at the first debate. Kasich’s New Hampshire finish is likely to be the high-water mark of his campaign, though.)
Yet if you read between the lines, I’m not entirely sure Gilmore isn’t going to endorse The Donald. Just take three passages from the last sentence I cited from Jim’s release.
“I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that our next President is a free enterprise Republican…” Given that Trump is the remaining business person in the race, that seems to be a good lead-in with respect to an endorsement.
“…who will restore our nation to greatness…” Sounds like “Make America Great Again.”
“… and keep our citizens safe.” With a wall at our border, perhaps? It all seems to be a play to give the endorsement to Trump, making Gilmore the first ex-candidate to do so.
So allow me to update my tier map:
- Bottom tier:
George Pataki(Marco Rubio), Donald Trump
- Fourth tier:
Chris Christie, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina
- Third tier:
Rick Santorum(Rubio), Jim Gilmore, Ben Carson
- Second tier: Marco Rubio,
Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham(Jeb Bush)
- Top tier (and these guys were miles ahead of the rest): Ted Cruz,
Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal(Rubio)
I suspect my third and fourth tiers will be cleaned out by the time we get to the SEC primary in March.
Oh, and speaking of Virginia politicians, the other Presidential aspirant from that state opted not to make an independent bid. Said Jim Webb:
We looked at the possibility of an independent candidacy. Theoretically it could be done, but it is enormously costly and time sensitive, and I don’t see the fundraising trajectory where we could make a realistic run.
Considering Webb would have possibly been in the mix with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and perhaps a disgruntled Donald Trump, a third-party run wasn’t going to make a dent.