Gilmore defining himself on trail

Story by Chris Graham

Jim Gilmore is a solid Republican – but he’s willing to break with party leaders, and even President Bush, when he feels it necessary.

“We don’t want to necessarily carry the power in Iraq strictly on the backs of the military. We’re very proud of those men and women, we honor them – but American policy has to be broad-based,” said Gilmore, a candidate for the Republican Party nomination to run for the open United States Senate seat representing Virginia in November.

In an interview with “The New Dominion Show,” Gilmore criticized the Bush administration policy in Iraq and the Middle East for its narrow focus on military solutions.

“We have to have a broad foreign policy that, one, that incorporates all the elements of national power – and that means military power, to be sure, because that’s an instrument of policy, strong military power. And I want America to be strong – I want America to be the strongest country in the world. And people should know that when they take on the United States and do us damage that we have the ability to defend ourselves. But I also believe that we have to use a great deal of diplomatic maneuvering. And also use our economic power – which is prodigal. We really have a great deal of economic power,” Gilmore said in an interview for today’s show conducted last night in Harrisonburg on the campus of James Madison University.

Gilmore spoke at an event sponsored by the JMU College Republicans that drew around 50 people, including some self-acknowledged independents and Democrats who are supporting Mark Warner for the Senate seat this year.

The event concluded roughly an hour before the State of the Union address from President Bush that included a lot of talk about the current economic downturn that the president and congressional leaders are aiming to combat with a spending bill that has been derided by the late-night comics as a Wal-Mart gift-card approach to boosting the economy.

Gilmore didn’t use that exact terminology, but he obviously has issues with the substance of the economic-stimulus package currently in the crosshairs of leaders on Capitol Hill.

“The gross domestic product of the United States today is driven 70 percent by consumer spending. That’s really a very high water mark for the United States – maybe too much. It could be that we have driven too much consumer spending over the years by allowing people to take equity out of their houses, by allowing people to have too easy credit, when it really wasn’t justified,” Gilmore said.

“So what now the reaction is, and I think it’s too late in coming, but the reaction is to try to prime more consumer spending. I believe that the better approach is to follow a program of sustained growth in the United States – one in which our economy in the United States is based on a sound footing. That means job growth, that means education so that people can get into these high-paying and good-opportunity tyoe of jobs where we have an advantage as Americans. I think we have to do job growth like I did while we were governor. I think we have to play to our strengths – like information technology and high technology,” Gilmore said.

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