Photo by Emily Cassel
Say what you will about Jim Gilmore: he didn’t have to ask for applause.
“It’s all rigged! Bernie Sanders is right about that,” the Republican fringe candidate barked, rallying listeners during an afternoon speech in Manchester. Speaking to a small crowd that still managed to top the total number of votes he got in Iowa (12), Gilmore gave an impassioned—if not entirely coherent—speech geared towards the #FightBigMoney interests of the hosting New Hampshire Rebellion.
They’re not Gilmore supporters, per se. The Rebellion wants to get big money out of politics. Which … might be the the only issue on which they really agree with Gilmore. The candidate didn’t seem to quite understand the root of the crowd’s questions, and his sidestepping and dodging wasn’t so much due to political prowess as it was to his continued misinterpretation of the asker’s aims. How will Gilmore ensure that taxpayer funds are levied for the public good rather than for the military industrial complex?
“In the interest of full disclosure,” he told the small audience, “I actually serve on the board of directors for a defense contractor.”
Photo by Emily Cassel
Gilmore goes on to talk about how lobbying should be controlled. “We’re seeing a disassociation of the American people from their representatives because of the suspicion and fear of crony capitalism and lobbying and all that,” Gilmore argued. Tough talk from board member of the National Rifle Association, which spends more than $3 million per year on lobbying, placing it in the top 150 of over 3,000 entities tracked by Open Secrets.
Gilmore, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, takes issue with the fact that he’s the only candidate with a military record, the only one “steeped in national security and foreign policy issues.” Can you imagine, he asks the freezing crowd, a president with no foreign policy or war experience?
The candidate wants to rebuild the military and enhance intelligence organizations. He wants to address the challenges facing our veterans—improving their access to healthcare, giving them a legitimate appeals process, probing into reports of falsified VA records—the lone nonfinancial factor he and his audience agree on. They’re admirable aims, except that Gilmore doesn’t seem to know how to get there. Asked how citizens can get their tax dollars to do what they want them to do, he had a lot to say about the way taxes are spent. What he doesn’t have are solutions—just a promise to “improve transparency.”
A sticking point for Gilmore is the pay-to-play antics of modern politics. He “chose” not to participate in Iowa because the costs were too high. It’s a state where you need a ground game, he says, and Gilmore’s pockets aren’t deep enough to hire a staff to go canvassing. Which, at the end of the day, makes him sound more like a child who’s being left out of the game than a conscientious objector.
He’s a man who’s against big power, big media, and big money, but only because he doesn’t have any.