Gilmore gets in

The man who coined the phrase "Rudy McRomney" officially kicked off his presidential campaign today.  Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore talked with me and AP’s Mike Glover just before his "announcement" which was broadcast "live" on his campaign website.  More on that conversation after the jump.

Gilmore’s "announcement" was staged in the Iowa Republican Party’s headquarters in Des Moines, a former funeral home that today — perhaps because of the wet weather — had the scent of something akin to kitty litter in the air. (Today is a day for weird smells, BTW. The women’s rest room on the ground floor of the statehouse has the distinct smell of charcoal lighter fluid — and it’s not just me! Ask Jeneane Beck or any of the other female statehouse reporters.)   

The main room in RPI HQ was divided by a hanging, navy blue curtain and a lectern was placed in front of it.  Both the curtain and lectern sported Gilmore campaign signs. Gilmore walked into the room, stood in front of that curtain, behind the lectern, and a camera broadcast the picture of his with his wife beside him on the Internet.  The sound on-line, however, wasn’t the best.

During the interview before his "announcement" Gilmore covered several topics:

About his "webcast" speech:  "This is going to be something unique in American politics and something which I think is a wave of the future and that’s the chance to talk directly to people as we develop the campaign through the Internet.  We, today, are doing a webcast, which gives us the opportunity to talk directly to rank-&-file Republicans and Americans across the country and this is a little different.  It’s a little different.  It used to be that you relied upon mail and very largely press, media — classic, standard media — and we’ll do those things and we’re happy to do them and we appreciate them but at the end of the day we have, we feel we have to talk directly to people so we’re going to do that today."

About his message:  "This is a campaign about national security and security of Americans everywhere and we have to focus our attention on the fact that America’s in a national challenge overseas and at home, that we have to focus our attention on homeland security and getting this country ready for an attack that will inevitably come and get it prepared and we are not yet prepared….I’m running for president because the country is not ready.  It can be a terrorist attack, which I think is quite likely and we have to understand the significance of that when it comes and then not let it upset the nation and all of our civil liberties and at the same time we can be attacked by just a deranged person, just like you saw in my home state at Virginia Tech."

About his conservative credentials, contrasted with his rivals: "I have as good or better a record as anybody in this race and that has to become known….I don’t think Mayor Giuliani even suggests that he’s a conservative.  Senator McCain has not made his reputation as a conservative.  He made it as a maverick and has become very high-profile over the last several years by doing and saying some outrageous things that give you profile.  He’s enjoying that benefit today but he isn’t a conservative and Governor Romney is certainly not (a conservative).  His record is very well known and on videotape and it’s all clear and now the difference there is he’s attempting to shift into becoming a conservative and the question we all had is: ‘Is that good enough for conservatives?’ and it is not.  I am a geniune consistent conservative.  I’ve never deviated….and I can be trusted as a candidate."

About his comment at the RPI Lincoln Unity Dinner that "Rudy McRomney is not a conservative" which drew boos from a few in the audience —  the transcript of our exchange is below: 

"I didn’t hear that.  Did you?" Gilmore said.

"Yes, when you said ‘Rudy McRomney’ there were a few boos," I said.

"Well, I didn’t hear that," Gilmore replied.  "I was there and when I read about it in the paper the next day, I was a bit surprised.  I didn’t hear that.  I suppose staffers for Rudy McRomney didn’t like that much but the fact is that people that night told me that they were rather happy that I had torn the veil off and told the truth."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.