Jim Gilmore, former Governor of Virginia and former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, is the 17th Republican to begin a run for President of the U.S. In a brief but to the point speech, he formally announced his candidacy. As the newest member of an already crowded field of presidential hopefuls, he began his speech by answering the simple question of ‘why?’
“I am a candidate for president because our current Washington leadership is guiding America on a path to decline, and I can reverse that decline.”
His focus immediately went to foreign affairs where he believes he is strongest, and his prospective opponent, Hillary Clinton is weakest. He pointed out what he thought to be the chief shortcoming in our foreign policy stating: “When America retreats because of weakness and failing leadership, we place our country and our citizens in harm’s way because those who would attack us know no boundaries.”
He also went on to repeat a now common refrain from the Republican field, that our allies don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us. He cited Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe, China’s increase in military spending and cyber attacks as proof that our adversaries were taking advantage of America’s perceived weakness. He suggested that the drastic reductions in force were under President Obama were done for economic reasons and did not serve our national security needs.
A weak economy, he insisted was tied to a weak national security. He sought to intertwine the two by invoking a variation on Reagan’s famous “are you better off now,” question:
“Seeing what has happened at home and abroad as a result of the Obama-Clinton policies, I hope every American will ask themselves these questions: Are you and your family safer than you were seven years ago? Are you better off economically? Is our country on the right track?”
The expected answer being “no” to each.
His solution for the country’s economic problems were to reduce taxes for individuals and for corporations. He also proposed a simplified, three-tiered tax rate and elimination of the so-called death tax. He believes that these will generate more economic activities, and bring jobs back here from overseas. He pointed to his record as Virginia Governor as proof that cutting taxes stimulated the economy and created jobs.
In his brief speech, he did manage to take verbal swipes at several of his Republican rivals for the nomination, all but singling out current front-runners Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio by name. “I’ve come to this point in my life like millions of you. I am not a billionaire, the son of a former president, or a member of the Washington establishment,” he stated knowing that the public will understand exactly who he was referring to.
He has been out of the public eye for some time now and wades into a crowded pool of presidential hopefuls. He sees himself as a candidate with solid backgrounds in national and economic security. He hails from a state in danger of turning blue, an important one at that. Can he make up ground on his opponents– some with equal or greater political accomplishments than his own? Can set himself apart from those others who in many cases have greater name recognition and deeper pockets than he? Maybe, but it will take some doing and he’ll find himself fighting just for airtime enough to keep his campaign afloat.