Ex-GOP Gov: 2012 Prez Candidates Are “Clowns”

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/4377603225/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Gage Skidmore</a>

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Here at CPAC, the annual three-day shindig for the conservative movement, Republican bigwigs rarely, if ever, take public shots at their fellow party members eyeing a run for the presidency. But one prominent GOPer, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, blasted many of the potential Republican candidates, calling them “clowns” who engage in “political theater” and who “place more emphasis on flamboyance than they do on thinking and policy and trying to make more serious proposals.”

Gilmore, a former Virginia attorney general and long-shot presidential candidate in 2008, now runs the conservative Free Congress Foundation think tank, and he was moderating a panel here at CPAC titled “The End of Productivity: The Growing Tax Burden.” His criticism of the 2012 presidential field came during a question-and-answer period at the end of the seminar. Asked by an audience member whether he thought the 2012 contenders have what it takes to turn around the country, Gilmore had this to say:

Here at CPAC, you have seen a lot of people running for president. I guess you’ve seen seven or eight. I made my personal list; it was 23 and I stopped counting. Some of them are real, some of them statements, some of them clowns. And that is the reality.

The fact is, many of the people running for president are running for their own self-interest. Because they want to be something.

I caught up with Gilmore after the panel and asked if he really meant to call certain GOP presidential hopefuls “clowns” that care more about themselves than the country. “Yeah, yeah,” he eagerly replied. “Some people place more emphasis on flamboyance than they do on thinking and policy and trying to make serious proposals. It falls to think tanks like us and others, Heritage and people like that, that actually offer decent proposals.” Gilmore paused a beat, then added, “And you know what, political theater’s OK. But when it’s all theater, the public suffers.”

I pressed Gilmore on which GOP candidates here at CPAC he specifically thought were clowns. He smiled, looked at my press pass, then said, “They’re very smart people, your readers. I’m sure they can figure it out.”

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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