LINK: Gilmore drops out of the race
Former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III is dropping his underdog bid for the Republican presidential nomination today, he told The Politico in an interview.
Gilmore said he has been approached about running for Virginia governor a second time, and about running for U.S. Senate if Sen. John W. Warner (R) retires. Gilmore said he will consider both options. Reflecting his long-held interest in Old Dominion politics, he said he will start a political action committee to support Republicans running for the state senate and House of Delegate.
In the interview, Gilmore said the punishing financial requirements of the early-starting race caused him to decide it was "impractical" to continue. "Because of the front-loading of the primaries, I would have basically had to stop campaigning and spend full time organizing hundreds of people to raise money for me," he said.
Gilmore's campaign issued a statement in which he said: "I have come to believe that it takes more than a positive vision for our nation's future to successfully compete for the presidency. I believe that it takes years of preparation to put in place both the political and financial infrastructure to contest what amounts to a one-day national primary in February."
Gilmore said he made the decision in the past 48 hours on the basis of "an assessment of where I could do the most good for the country and the state of Virginia." He said he has not made a decision about endorsing one of his rivals, but said he would not rule it out.
Gilmore had offered himself as the "consistent conservative" and heir to Ronald Reagan in a field that has left many Republican activists dissatisfied. He is the first GOP candidate to leave the race. He said he will continue to speak out on issues like homeland security and terrorism, subjects that he emphasized in debates.
Other candidates commanded much more cash and attention, keeping Gilmore a distant also-ran. Financial reports this weekend showed he had little hope of cracking the top tier. Gilmore raised $170,000 in the first three months of the year and said he collected $211,000 in the quarter ending June 30, while the leading candidates in the race banked millions.
In Gilmore's successful race for a four-year term for Virginia governor in 1997, he showed the popular appeal of fiscal conservativism with his "no car tax" pledge to reduce the commonwealth's personal property tax.
While in office, he served briefly as chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Gilmore is a lawyer who has made counterterrorism and homeland security his specialties since leaving office. An Army veteran and son of a Safeway meat cutter, he rose as an outsider in the clubby world of Richmond law, becoming Henrico County commonwealth's attorney and state attorney general. He was the first chairman of a congressionally appointed commission on terrorism that became known as the Gilmore Commission.