SATURDAY, Feb. 28: GILMORE: “RUDY STOLE MY LINE, MESSED IT UP,” Earlier this week, we interviewed former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich. On Friday, we sat down with former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who was in the second of two-day visit to first-primary state New Hampshire.
Why, you may ask? They have no chance, you say?
Of course they’re longshots. Very much so. But, agree or disagree with them, these gentlemen have something to offer to the presidential primary debate, which is, for all intents and purposes, is well underway despite the fact that no one is “officially” in the race, yet. Read our interview with Ehrlich here.
Gillmore has a resume that can stand with that of anyone else running for President — a former governor, a former attorney general, a former elected prosecutor and a former Republican National Committee chairman. He also chaired two federal commissions – on internet taxation and on the capability of terrorists to use weapons of mass destruction domestically.
He is a veteran of the U.S. Army Intelligence.
And he is currently the president and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative think tank founded by the late conservative leader Paul Weyrich.
“I’ll be happy to put my credentials up against anybody, and more than that, put my ideas up against anybody,” Gilmore told us. “There’s scatter-shot all over the place. I’m not. I know what needs to be done.”
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore
And what needs to be done is a clear focus on cutting both personal and corporate taxes to spur the economy, and a “third way’ on foreign policy that is neither neo-isolationism nor what he considers the “reckless,” overly aggressive approach of neo-conservatives.
Gilmore said that when Rudy Giuliani said earlier this week that President Barack Obama does not love America, the former New York Mayor was actually stealing and embellishing on his line from the recent Iowa Freedom Summit.
He does not contend that the President does not love the country, but he said Obama does not “believe in America.”
“Rudy picked that up, messed it up,” Gilmore said. “He didn’t understand what I was trying to say. He got off on this question of whether the President loves America, and I just don’t think that’s the best way to address it.
“The best way to address it is the way I addressed it. The President doesn’t believe in an America that I believe in and that I believe that Granite Staters believe in. He doesn’t believe in an America that can be a force for good in the world and internationally. And I believe that it can.”
Gilmore said Obama apparently “does not believe that America is an exceptional nation. He has said repeatedly that we’re no different than any other country. And Hillary Clinton has certainly cheerleaded him on that in her Cabinet position. She hasn’t done anything to influence that attitude.”
Interestingly, Gilmore said the same applies to some Republicans – particularly Rand Paul.
“That attitude is actually not uncommon,” he said. “Rand Paul is a neo-isolationist. We could screw this up and nominate a guy like that. He’s has a pull back, pull back, pull back attitude, just like the President has. And we don’t need that. And we don’t need the recklessness that we’ve seen in the past, either.”
Gilmore predicted that Hillary Clinton’s theme when she runs for President will not be foreign policy. “She should as a former Secretary of State be playing that card, but she’s not going to, and the reason is that the foreign policy that she believes and Barack Obama believes in is not a winning issue.
“If they run on an outcome of equality as opposed to an opportunity society, then that is not believing in America. They just don’t believe that people in America can advance in a free-market system. I do.”
Gilmore said it’s a “wide open field. Jeb Bush is going to try to close it but I don’t think he’s going to be successful at that. I think there is an opportunity for , people t o say what they want to say, and I come at it with credibility.”
Gilmore said his role at the Free Congress Foundation has given him a chance to focus on what he believes American are most interested in – “growth and opportunity and national security, which is now an international crisis.”
Gilmore said the policy discussion on how to deal with terrorism has become over-simplified.
“Number one is the old neo-con idea of invasion, use of force and trying to bull your way through, which is what we have seen before. It’s reckless, we’re still paying for it and the consequences are not yet fully seen. And second, you have the reaction to it, and that is to pull back and pull back and pull back – and that is what the President is doing – which I believe is neo-isolationism.
“The problem there is you don’t shape events, you allow events to shape you,” he said.
“You have to find a third approach to foreign policy, which is today not under discussion at all. There has to be a middle ground in American foreign policy in which we actually decide what our goals are, what our values are and then craft upon that a foreign policy that uses everything – our diplomacy backed up by force, economic and the strength of western culture. We support our friends and we stand up to our enemies.
“If you don’t you end up with a worse problem. You end up in a conflict or have to pull back again,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore said that while the economy has improved since Obama took office, “it’s not good enough—not for Jim Gilmore it’s not.”
He said 7 million Americans who want full-time jobs are being forced to work part-time and “millions of people are chronically unemployed. And the statistics show that when you’re out of work and you go back to work, you’re not making as much money. That is a direct reduction in your standard of living.”
He calls for across-the-board tax cuts for “regular working people,” and a reduction of the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, without credits and exemptions.
“That stimulates the economy by stimulating investment and American businesses become more proactive about building up their businesses and trying to capture more market share and hiring more people and buying more equipment,” he said.
“We need to have all business unified under one provision – straight up 15 percent,” he said.
Gilmore also called for ending the so-called “death tax,” calling it “not fair, immoral. It’s double taxation and it’s wrecking people who want to pass down small businesses and family farms to the next generation,” he said. He also said equipment should be able to be written off in the first year.
“But there isn’t any discussion about the need for this,” Gilmore said. “All the happy talk coming out of Washington says everything is great. It isn’t. And the people in the Granite State are telling me that is what we need to do.”
Gilmore said that while most of the GOP field is in Maryland at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he has chosen to be in New Hampshire.
He said he has spoken at CPAC many times and even won a “Defender of the Constitution Award” there.
“The only room for me in the race is to actually advocate to the people of New Hampshire what needs to be done for the country,” he said. “That’s my niche.”
SPEAKING OF LONGSHOTS. Former New York Gov. George Pataki was also in New Hampshire this week, and he will return in mid-March. We’ve learned he will host a lunch on the Seacoast with business people and will tour Silvertech, a digital marketing firm in Manchester. He will meet with the firm’s executives to discuss growing technologies in the state.
And on March 17, he will speak at the Wild Irish Breakfast for the PLUS Company in Nashua.
Veteran GOP strategist Alicia Preston has been working with Pataki on and off since 2005, and and has been his top scheduler and advisor in New Hampshire during his current testing of the proverbial presidential waters.
On Friday, Preston, of Hampton, was formally named the press secretary to Pataki’s PAC, “We the People, not Washington.”
SHAHEEN FOR GOVERNOR? Could there be another “Shaheen vs. Sununu” statewide race in the offing?
Speculation about a possible run for governor by Republican Executive Councilor Chris Sununu continues to circulate, and now, the name of Portsmouth City Councilor Stefany Shaheen is being seriously discussed by key Democrats as a possible candidate for chief executive should Gov. Maggie Hassan move on to take on Sen. Kelly Ayotte next year.
CRUZ ADDS TO SCHEDULE. We’ve already reported that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be in New Hampshire on the evening of Sunday, March 15, to keynote the Grafton County GOP Committee’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Indian Head Resort.
Cruz has added a stop in Strafford County to his schedule, earlier that day. He will appear at a lunch hosted by the Strafford County GPOP at Turbocam in Barrington.
Gilmore, meanwhile, will be back in New Hampshire, and in Strafford County, on March 12 visiting the McConnell Center Cafeteria in Dover. The event is a free potluck dinner followed by remarks and a question-and-answer session.
_ Longtime Jeanne Shaheen legal counsel Judy Reardon left her post with the Senator on Friday to explore her options in the presidential primary. Shaheen, of course, is a close friend and supporter of Hillary Clinton.
_ Executive Councilor Chris Pappas will be hosting former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley next Saturday, March 7, for the New Hampshire Democratic Party breakfast fundraiser at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. The event is prior to the state committee meeting at which the party’s full slate of officers are expected to be reelected, probably unanimously. O’Malley on Friday night, March 6, will appear at a joint fundraiser for the Merrimack County and Concord City Democrats at Gibson’s Book Store and True Brew Barista in downtown Concord.
_ The New Hampshire Young Democrats raised more than $10,000 in advance of their Kennedy Awards event last night at Milly’s Tavern, featuring Gov. Maggie Hassan.
_ The Manchester City Democratic Committee will honor Rep. Mary Sullivan Heath at its upcoming annual St. Patrick’s Breakfast.
_ Somersworth Mayor Dana Hillard has taken over as chair of the New Hampshire Chapter of the Democratic Municipal Organization. Manchester Alderman Dan O’Neil chaired the group for the past year.
(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political reporter/columnist in New Hampshire. He has been reporting on Granite State politics since 1980. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column and of course separate stories on NHJournal.com as news breaks. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)