After attending Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's rally in Salem Monday night, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore stopped by Blacksburg's GOP headquarters yesterday as part of his campaign for the United States Senate.
It was the second time that Gilmore has visited Blacksburg during the campaign season. He had previously attended the Obenshain-Dalton Gala on Aug. 22 at the Inn at Virginia Tech.
Gilmore spoke on issues from energy independence, taxation and forced unionization, three issues on which his stance, Gilmore said, would eventually tilt the election in his favor.
Gilmore spoke to a crowd of 12 supporters, half of which were students.
While a recent Washington Post poll staked Gilmore at a chasm-esque 30-percentage-point polling deficit to former Virginia governor and Democratic senate candidate Mark Warner, Gilmore said such polling numbers were produced by the "liberal media" to intimidate his supporters.
"I've seen the polling. You've seen the polling. Everybody has seen the polling. ... The polling right now is overpowering the issues," Gilmore said. "And that's not good. If the public understand where we stand on the issues, we will certainly win."
Gilmore later touted his record in higher education, saying he reduced college tuition across Virginia by 20 percent, and his vision for the future as the top reasons that students should turn out and vote for him on Election Day.
"Young people should vote for me because I'm talking about policies that will protect their future. I understand the position students are in. I understand how their families feel," Gilmore said.
Gilmore also said that the recent financial bailout will end up being taken out on students and their families in the form of higher taxes and higher tuitions.
"When their family's household taxes go up, it's harder to pay tuition. And they'll come up for financial aid, and maybe they'll get it and maybe they won't. Or maybe they'll end up with a big debt. Or maybe they'll end up working at night instead of studying. These are the direct impacts the bailout will have on people's lives," Gilmore said.
While Gilmore's visit came and went largely under the radar, Warner shared a stage with Google CEO Eric Schmidt in front of a packed house at the Lyric on Oct 23.
While Judi Lynch, an administrator in the college of veterinary medicine and faculty advisor to the Tech College Republicans, was quick to point out that the low turnout was a result of students and faculty having academic responsibilities during Gilmore's visit, she said that the Alumni Association, which sponsored Warner's event, had contacted her previously about putting on an event similar to Warner's.
"We were sponsoring the Warner program and would extend the same courtesy to the Gilmore people for a similar program," said Tom Tillar, vice president for alumni relations. "Because we were involved in the sponsorship of a program that involved a current senatorial candidate, we wanted to make it clear that ... we were not endorsing Warner's campaign and we wanted to make sure that the Gilmore campaign knew that that was the case."
While Tillar offered the Gilmore campaign sponsorship of a similar, non-rally event, the Gilmore campaign declined, Lynch said.
"When Gilmore wins, then we'll take Tom up on his offer," Lynch added.