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The Warner-Gilmore Battle Begins

Both Mark Warner and Jim Gilmore spent Labor Day at the parade in Buena Vista, where modern Virginia fall campaigns have traditionally started:

BUENA VISTA, Va., Sept. 1 — Virginia’s top Senate candidates clashed verbally after marching in this city’s annual Labor Day parade, kicking off a general election campaign that threatens to become overshadowed by the commonwealth’s increasingly important role in the presidential election.

The parade, long considered a must for Virginia politicians, drew Democrat Mark R. Warner and his Republican opponent, James S. Gilmore III, two former governors, who traded barbed remarks after heading down Magnolia Avenue with other parade participants.

Gilmore said Warner is ducking a statewide televised debate and accused him of demeaning home-schoolers as well as gun-rights and antiabortion activists in a 1994 speech. Warner, who said he is still considering taking part in televised debates, shot back by accusing Gilmore of being “all about partisanship.”


Gilmore seized on Warner’s decision not to attend a League of Women Voters-sponsored debate that would have been aired statewide. “He doesn’t want his positions known to the people of Virginia,” Gilmore said. “He covers up his positions on the issues because if he runs on his positions, he loses. In fact, he is not electable.”

One Republican strategist, though, is saying that Gilmore is being hypocritical in attacking Warner over the debate issue:

Republican strategist J. Kenneth Klinge called GOP Senate candidate James S. Gilmore “a hypocrite” today over Gilmore’s criticism of Mark R. Warner for not yet agreeing to a statewide, televised debate.

Klinge, an ally of U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), noted that Gilmore refused to debate his opponent for the Republican nomination, Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), in the weeks leading up to the state GOP convention in June.

“I am sick and tired of seeing (Gilmore) act like something he isn’t,” said Klinge, who has been critical of Gilmore in the past. “On this subject, he is definitely a hypocrite.”

On Monday, Gilmore said it’s not fair to compare his stance on debates with Warner, the Democratic nominee for Senate, to the one he held this spring. Gilmore noted that only 5,000 delegates selected the GOP nominee whereas several million people will vote in the general election.

“We had a small universe of people” during the nomination fight, Gilmore said. “This is a debate for the entire population. This is where the difference is.”

Klinge, who work behind the scenes in support of Marshall at the GOP convention, responded by saying, “Boss Tweed used to say, ‘I don’t care who gets elected as long as you let me pick the candidates’.”

“His argument that this was just a convention and only 5,000 people showed up is just fallacious,” Klinge said of Gilmore.

As things stand, Gilmore’s complaints about debate scheduling don’t look like they’re going anywhere, and they honestly don’t sound like the kind of stuff you hear from a campaign that actually thinks it has a chance of winning.

And, in all honesty, it’s hard to muster alot of excitement about a Senate race that appears to be pretty much over.

What is interesting, though, is the evidence in Buena Vista of yet more Warner supporters for McCain, or at least against Obama:

“I just think we’ve got a sad situation when we have someone like Obama running for president,” said Lucille Feazell, 84, of Buena Vista, who declined to elaborate. “I’m on the fence about John McCain. Everyone thinks he will be another Bush, and I am still not sure if he will have his own ideas.”

Ruth Fitzgerald, 80, said she is a “born and raised” Democrat. But she said she might not vote this year because she is not enthusiastic about Obama. “If I vote, I’ll vote for him, but I wanted Hillary,” said Fitzgerald, referring to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

But there are signs Obama is making inroads with traditional Democrats in Buena Vista.

“I’m a Democrat. He’s a Democrat. He’s for the middle class, and it’s time for change,” said Mark Smith, 43, of Buena Vista.

When Mildred Hartless, 78, was asked whom she plans to vote for, she responded: “Bahama, Omama or whatever his name his.”

“I like him. I really do,” she said, adding: “But I really like Warner. I hope in four years or eight years, he is running for president. “

Will Mark Warner be able to convince these people to pull the lever for Obama as well as him ? If he does, then Virginia may actually go blue this year after all.

9 Responses to “The Warner-Gilmore Battle Begins”

  1. Doug:
    Do you base everything you write an think about based on WaPo articles, and who they would like you to quote?

  2. Umm, is there something in that Post article you contend is in accurate ?

  3. Doug:
    Yankee Phil, Rightside VA, and I was at the event, as it is only thirty miles away from our homes. So color us biased, but you just took two WaPo articles, and drew the exact conclusion they wanted you to make.

    Seriously your statement:
    “And, in all honesty, it’s hard to muster alot of excitement about a Senate race that appears to be pretty much over.

    What is interesting, though, is the evidence in Buena Vista of yet more Warner supporters for McCain, or at least against Obama:”

    This is the exact conclusion that the WaPo wants you to parrot…

    As someone who reads and comments on your blog fairly regularly, I’m disappointed that the depth of what you want to base your posts on is what the WaPo feeds you… Staunton has a newspaper, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg.. you know bloggers?

  4. Inaccurate huh?
    I believe every thing that the WaPo puts out (macaca), and I parrot everything they want me to parrot.

    They wouldn’t be running straight to some ‘Republican’ Marshall supporter to try and blunt the fact that Warner took a major mistep in not debating Gilmore at the League of Women Voters…

    Rather than you making a little hay of the subject, you just parrot the Post…

    as for Bob Marshall… Hillary Clinton showed exactly how much class she has by instantly endorsing Obama, and helping her party march towards socialism.

    Second place Bob Marshall just pouts, and helps his party march towards electing PRO-ABORTION Mark Warner….

    Care to point out was is inaccurate in that statement? I didn’t necessarily come over here to pick a fight, I would like to know why you’re walking lock step with the WaPo?

  5. I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    If you don’t think that Gilmore would be taking the same position on debate scheduling that Warner is now if he held a 25 point lead in the polls, then you honestly don’t know that much about politics.

    Frontrunners do what they can to limit free media coverage for their opponents, and the opponents always complaint about it.

    This is the way it’s always been.

    And, quite honestly, complaining about debate schedules has never been a winning strategy for any politician anywhere.

  6. Fact Jim Gilmore didn’t debate Marshall, because Marshall only had one thing to talk about adnauseum… How superior his ‘position’ on abortion…. over, and over and over…

    You know that, I know that…. It truly was to a small universe of Virginia’s voters.

    Mark Warner ducking a debate that will encompass three to four main issues is a totally different ball game. This isn’t the playoff’s any more.

    Your tacit support of Warner on this is really an endorsement of his candidacy, and I hope you are ready to defend his voting record if he wins this November… That would be six years worth of big govt on a real roll….

    I bet libertarian ideals are really gonna get promoted by a bullet proof Democrat/ic controlled US Senate…

    Your support of Warner is not adding up. Let Warner and Gilmore take the Libertarian test, and I think you would find that Gilmore is closer to your beliefs… frankly because Warner’s 1994 statement about the NRA, Homeschoolers etc. threatening the way of life in America just masks the fact that his ‘positions’ are mostly just lies to get elected. Something that should should just turn a libertarian off in the first place…

    Doug, I just don’t get it…

  7. I didn’t support Marshall and I don’t support Warner, I just think that being a crybaby about debates is a little ridiculous.

    This ain’t beanball.

    And as for which Senate candidate is more libertarian, that distinction would probably fall to Bill Redpath, the actual libertarian who’s running for Senate this year, but I haven’t decided who I’m voting for.

  8. I’m glad to hear that. John Warner’s votes in the Senate have always been frustrating… Mark Warner’s will be further to the left… Jim Gilmore would restore a very Conservative voting record that was lost by George Allen.

    I would expect Gilmore to be more Conservative…

    What is crucial now is getting everyone to focus on Kaine’s $1 billion dollar deficit caused by the economy. Exact same thing happened to Gilmore except he was crucified because he dared to give the Commonwealth the largest and longest lasting tax cut in VA’s history.

    Once that becomes clear everyone will just see thru the propaganda… well except the liberals…

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