James S. Gilmore



The information presented below reflects the 2008 election season and is not representative of changes in titles, roles, or policy views expressed since then.

James S. Gilmore Gilmore ran a short-lived presidential campaign in the first part of 2007. In July 2007, he became the first candidate to withdraw from the race, citing fundraising problems. Before dropping out, his polling numbers lagged far behind the crowded GOP field of contenders despite a reputation for expertise in homeland security issues. He started his career as a U.S. counterintelligence agent in Germany in the 1970s before earning a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1977.

In 1993, Gilmore was elected attorney general for the state of Virginia, a position he held until taking over the governorship in 1998. As governor, Gilmore chaired the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, dubbed the “Gilmore Commission.” That congressionally-mandated panel made a host of recommendations to the government on homeland security and counterterrorism. Gilmore now chairs the National Council on Readiness and Preparedness, which aims to prepare the country for disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terror attacks. In late 2007, Gilmore was mulling a run for the Senate seat to be vacated in 2009 by Sen. John Warner (R-VA). Gilmore maintains a political blog, the Virginia Patriot.

Since exiting the race, Gilmore has endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for the Republican nomination.

Campaign Issues

Domestic Intelligence

Gilmore called for the creation of a domestic intelligence agency, separate from any existing governmental department. The former governor of Virginia made that recommendation in 2002 as the chair of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, also known as the Gilmore Commission.

In his role on that panel, Gilmore expressed concern that domestic spying tactics in response to the terrorist threat might “change what we are as Americans.” He also said the United States should take care to “separate the intelligence collection function from the law enforcement function to avoid the impression that the U.S. is establishing a kind of ‘secret police.’” (MSNBC)


As the chair of the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, Gilmore has made numerous recommendations for the management of the war on terror, ranging from suggestions on more efficient intelligence-gathering methods to managing Defense Department operations.

Gilmore says the objective should be “to create some stability” and ensure self-determination (Human Events) in the countries where the United States is fighting terrorism. Gilmore also says “we should guard against losing any of our fundamental freedoms as a result of the war on terrorism.” (WashPost)

Energy Policy

If elected, Gilmore plans to create a program called “American Energy Freedom,” which he calls “a NASA-like effort to motivate and stimulate American ingenuity and technology using research and development tax incentives to help free our nation from its dependence on foreign oil within twenty-five years.” He also plans to boost the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Gilmore supports alternative fuels and the use of hydrogen power.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Gilmore has made few statements on this topic, but appears to support Israel in its security measures. In a June 2007 Republican debate, Gilmore said the United States should pursue stability in the Middle East to protect its interests in Israel.

North Korea Policy

Gilmore's stance on North Korea is unknown.

U.S. Policy toward China

Gilmore's stance is unknown.

Defense Policy

From 1999 to 2003, Jim Gilmore headed the Gilmore Commission, a congressionally created advisory panel on terrorism-related issues. The panel issued a series of reports on everything from combating cybercrime to intelligence sharing among local authorities. The commission’s third of five reports urges the involvement of the defense department in establishing a clear chain of command to provide support to civil authorities in the event of terrorism, natural disasters or civil disturbances.


Gilmore supports the troop surge, and opposes any attempt to impose timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Still, in June 2007, Gilmore published an open letter to Bush in the Washington Post urging him to "stop thinking it is our responsibility to solve the Iraq conflict" and redefine the goals in Iraq "in terms of America's national interest." In that letter, Gilmore proposed a policy of "maintaining a military presence needed to preserve democracy" and initiating special operations against terrorists, but drawing down troop levels in Iraq. This, he says, would "save U.S. lives and tax dollars."


Gilmore's stance on trade is not known.

Homeland Security

Gilmore has positioned himself as a homeland security and terrorism expert in Washington. As former chair of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, also known as the Gilmore Commission, he has made numerous recommendations to the Bush administration regarding homeland security. His panel's 2002 report (PDF) said that the president should “specifically designate the DHS as the Lead Federal Agency for response to a bioterrorism attack, and specify its responsibilities and authority before, during, and after an attack.” The Gilmore Commission also recommended that both the Senate and House establish their own committees regarding terrorism and homeland security.

Gilmore, who served as a counter-intelligence agent in the U.S. army during the 1970s, now chairs the Homeland Security Practice Group of the Kelley Drye law firm.


Gilmore has not ruled out military action against Iran. He supports “serious mandatory sanctions” against Iran. In a May 2007 Republican debate, Gilmore said, “the American people have to at some point come to a real serious conclusion about the tough decision that has to be made when we may have to in fact strike,” indicating that he believes a strike on Iran may soon be necessary.

Climate Change

Gilmore's stance on this issue is unknown.

United Nations

Gilmore's stance on this issue is unknown.