Gillespie Warns Of Warner
‘Obamacare Whip’ Can Be Defeated, Republican Says
HARRISONBURG — The 2014 campaign season kicked off locally Friday with U.S. Senate hopeful Ed Gillespie telling area Republicans that Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s seat is “very winnable.”
“I think people are hungry for change,” he said.
But, as the GOP candidate heard, predicting victory is easier than actually going out and doing it.
Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and an aide to President George W. Bush in his second term in office, visited with members of the local party at its monthly First Fridays luncheon at Wood Grill Buffet. He is one of four candidates seeking the Republican nomination to face Warner in November’s general election.
Gillespie, an Alexandria resident, is the favorite to win the nomination at a party convention this summer. His opponents are Shak Hill, a retired Air Force pilot in Centreville; Fredericksburg resident Anthony DeTora, senior policy adviser for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California; and Charles Moses, a Nokesville businessman.
Knocking out Warner in the incumbent’s bid for a second six-year term in office poses a greater challenge for Gillespie. Still recovering from a Democratic sweep of statewide office last year, and the defeat of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, area Republicans advised Gillespie that his campaign message must go beyond just slamming Warner on economic issues.
From the outset of his campaign, and again Friday, Gillespie has criticized Warner for voting almost entirely alongside President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — both Democrats — for policies that he says are not business friendly and lead to increased costs for middle-class Virginians.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, tops that list, the candidate says.
“He was a whip for Obamacare,” Gillespie said of Warner. “It’s not just that the policies of Sen. Warner are killing U.S. jobs. They’re destroying the American work ethic.”
The Congressional Business Office this week announced that several million American workers will reduce their hours on the job or leave the workforce entirely because of incentives built into the health care overhaul. It means losses equal to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.
The CBO has said that the figure represents the workforce shrinking, and not the actual loss of jobs as Republicans heralded the announcement to signify.
Either way, Gillespie said he agrees with what he heard from local Republicans — he has to find ways to win over what’s become a “blue” Virginia.
He said he’ll be “very forceful” taking his message of “limited government and personal liberty” to demographics that previously were not focal points of Republicans. For example, Gillespie has a Spanish version of why he’s running for Senate on his website and spent the Chinese New Year with Vietnamese Americans in Northern Virginia.
Minorities typically lean toward Democrats in elections.
“We are seeing now sometimes politics is a pendulum swing,” Gillespie said. “People are looking for a change in course and change in direction.”
Grass-roots Republicans must help advance the GOP’s cause, said Suzanne Obenshain, whose husband, state Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, lost the attorney general’s race last year.
“We have to stay united,” she said.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org