Why you should care
You didn’t, which is why it came to this.
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Remember how The Hunger Games would honor its fallen tributes? In this occasional series, OZY predicts which presidential candidates will be the next to fall — whether they know it or not.
Gov. Gilmore, we hardly knew thee. And if the polls are right, most of us never will. Under different circumstances, a former prosecutor/attorney general/governor/German-speaking Cold War intelligence officer would catch everyone’s eye. Alas, you ran Virginia for a single term some 13 years ago, after a race The Washington Post dubbed “the bland leading the bland”; that would make it difficult to stand out against Rick Santorum, much less the Donald. You may not have officially wound down your White House bid quite yet, but the odds seem good this campaign won’t last much longer than your similar candle-in-the-wind run in 2007 did. (That is, barely three months — just in case you’ve forgotten like everyone else.)
You were the last of the Republican field to declare your candidacy, just a week before you valiantly took your seat at the Fox News “kids’ table” debate — though you made sure everyone knew you weren’t happy about it. “Fox and the RNC have set up a system that rewards people who are the most theatrical on television,” you told Politico’s Playbook. “That’s just not Jim Gilmore. I’m not willing to say things on TV to get that kind of exposure.” And you’ve stood by that principle. From your measured 10-minute announcement video to your unheralded debate performance, Jim Gilmore has not been willing to say things to get that kind of exposure on TV. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jim Gilmore did not get that kind of exposure on TV.
(Your campaign didn’t get back to us, but your supporters would doubtless argue there’s still plenty of time for you to convince voters you’re the only candidate with the experience to lead America in a dangerous world. On the other hand, you can’t even seem to wrangle an invite to Nancy Reagan’s GOP debate on Sept. 16.)
What will the world miss out on with no prospect of a Gilmore White House? A working-class commander in chief and homeland security guru whose favorite restaurant is Pizza Hut, and who would have been the first son of a Safeway butcher to serve as leader of the free world. A persistent guy — the kind who, once rejected by the University of Virginia’s law school, planted himself in the admissions office on the first day of classes until the school changed its mind. If only that worked with voters.
Still, there are plenty of good times ahead. Many politicos can only dream of the conservative trifecta you’ve already hit — NRA board member, Fox News commentator and think tank president. Also serving as POTUS might have been too much to ask. So perhaps it’s best to leave that task to lesser mortals, especially those who are more theatrical on television.
A moment of silence, please, for the fallen. Jim Gilmore of Virginia. The odds were never, ever in your favor.