Gilmore serves up red meat at local diner
In the realm of American politics, "change" might be a word most associated with Sen. Barack Obama (D)'s presidential campaign. But today, in Charlottesville, another recent candidate for the White House showed that the Illinois senator has not cornered the market on the year's biggest political buzzword.
"It is time for a change," said former governor Jim Gilmore (R) to a room of about 30 supporters, "and when I'm elected to the United States Senate, we're going to give people a fresh energy policy."
Such was the theme of Gilmore's remarks at yesterday's stop at Sam's Kitchen on Emmet Street, as he touted not only his history of lowering the car tax as governor, but also his plan to lower gas prices which he says are "rocking and rippling through the economy."
The Republican candidate for retiring U.S. Senator John Warner (R)'s seat in Washington laid out an energy plan that included hybrid vehicle technology, as well as coal, and nuclear power, but stressed the need to "drill for oil in the United States of America, and drill for it now."
"Nobody said I was a bad environmental governor," said Gilmore, "but I'm concerned about people suffering right now and we need to put both policies in place: energy production and the environment."
To that end, Gilmore asserted it would be possible to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) in Alaska with minimal environmental impact.
"If ANWR were a football field," he explained, "the area we would need to drill would be about the size of a postage stamp, and a pretty clean postage stamp at that."
While this was certainly Gilmore's show, Democratic opponent and former governor Mark Warner played a supporting–- if absent–- role in this bit of political theater. Gilmore continually compared Warner to "the guys who have been running things in Washington," and fed the proverbial red meat to the decidedly red state crowd in comparing Warner to other prominent Democrats.
"[Senate majority leader] Harry Reid said coal is poisonous. [Former Vice President] Al Gore said that we need to be off fossil fuels in 10 years," Gilmore said. "That's not realistic, and that's an example of the kind of thinking that's led people into the situation they're in."
Asked after the speech how he, with a seat on the board of the National Rifle Association and a stint as chairman of the Republican National Committee on his resumÃ©, was any less Washingtonian than his opponent, Gilmore said, "It's not about physical location. It's about who you are. The people prevalent in Washington want higher taxes, and they're captive of the environmental lobby. That's why I said [Warner] is like the people who run Washington."
In a final plea to the gathered supporters, Gilmore implored them to volunteer, to donate money to the campaign, and to put a bumper sticker on their cars. When this met with a tepid response, Gilmore ad libbed, "Anybody got a moral problem with putting a bumper sticker on your car? Gunks up your Lexus?"
He paused a moment and then made one last campaign promise. "If I'm elected," Gilmore said, "you call me when I'm a United States Senator, and I will come and personally take it off."