NPR logo Former Gov. James Gilmore (R-VA)

Former Gov. James Gilmore (R-VA)

Former Gov. James Gilmore Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Getty Images

You can find the term "long shot" near Jim Gilmore's name in many of the articles on his presidential candidacy. The former Virginia governor has no national profile — other than a brief stint as chairman of the Republican National Committee during the first Bush term — and little in the way of campaign cash. He reported raising about $175,000 during the first quarter of 2007.

Yet Gilmore maintains that he has a chance to win the nomination because he is the only true "Ronald Reagan conservative" seeking the GOP nomination and he "won't waffle, waver or change." When he focused on that theme during the first Republican debate, in May 2007, some saw it as an indirect swipe at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has acknowledged shifting his position on abortion. Gilmore supports tax cuts, limited government, gun rights and a strong homeland security policy, as well as President Bush's troop surge in Iraq.

Gilmore was an army intelligence officer, a county district attorney and Virginia attorney general before he was elected governor in 1997. From 1999 to 2003, he served as chairman of the eponymous Gilmore Commission, which was created by Congress to study the nation's readiness to deal with a terrorist attack. His one-year tenure as head of the RNC came to an end in a dispute with the Bush White House.

Article continues after sponsorship

Gilmore ran for governor on a platform of repealing Virginia's car tax. He succeeded only partially, as he was met with opposition from legislators of his own party. His critics say that Gilmore left the state in a financial hole and the Virginia GOP divided, and that his record opened the door for Democrats to take over the statehouse. Some observers of the Virginia political scene think Gilmore's presidential bid may be a warm-up for another bid for governor in 2009 or for a Senate run — if incumbent Republican Sen. John Warner retires in 2008.