On Tuesday, January 17th, Ed Gillespie made a campaign stop in Harrisonburg, Virginia. To the best of my knowledge, he is the first candidate of any political party to come to the city. He spoke in front of a rather impressive crowd of about 60 or so individuals during the mid-afternoon at the Agrodolce restaurant.
Personally, I though Mr. Gillespie gave a great speech, much improved from any of the speeches I heard him give during his run for U.S. Senate in 2014. He spoke of the need for limiting government and, as opposed some members of the Republican Party these days, seemed to speak against crony capitalism. Unlike many first-time candidates, although Ed Gillespie spoke about his personal story, it wasn’t the central focus of his talk. My only real disappointment was that I wish he would have taken questions from the audience, but his campaign seemed to be in a bit of a time crunch, clearing out of the restaurant soon after the speech was over.
The biggest concern I had about the event had nothing to do with Mr. Gillespie or his campaign, who again put together a quality campaign stop on his kickoff tour, but rather some the individuals who attended. One could label quite a few of them as establishment Republicans and, while I’ve known some of them for a decade or more, many have unfortunately proven themselves untrustworthy and, just as troubling, more desirous of accumulating power and demanding loyalty to the GOP than advancing any other political principle. I know that some good, honest, principled people are supporting Ed Gillespie too, and there were some at the Harrisonburg event as well, but I have to say I sensed I was out of place. Borrowing a line from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, I felt like a pilgrim in an unholy land.
But, if Ed Gillespie and his campaign can hold more events like the one in Harrisonburg today, it will likely solidify his status as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination.