Gillespie looks ahead to general election

Two days before he hopes to snag the GOP nomination in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race, Ed Gillespie ducked a question about climate change and unfurled his plan for trying to unseat Sen. Mark R. Warner (D).

Gillespie, a longtime political strategist and former Republican National Committee chairman, is one of four Republicans vying for the party’s nod at a nominating convention in Roanoke on Saturday. But he was already looking ahead to the general election as he rolled out the five-point plan that he said he would run on against Warner, a former governor seeking a second Senate term.

“People want to know what I’m for, what we are for as a party,” Gillespie said in a conference call with reporters. “I want to support a positive, pro-growth agenda. . . . It’s an agenda that I believe will resonate all across the commonwealth.”

Gillespie’s plan is intended to stimulate economic growth and “get us moving again,” as he put it. He said he would push to replace the new federal health-care law with something more market oriented; “unleash American energy” by lifting a ban on offshore drilling and supporting construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline between Canada and the United States; provide tax and regulatory relief by lowering corporate tax rates; reform education by promoting charter schools and school choice; and rein in federal spending by cutting wasteful sending and introducing a balanced-budget amendment.

“He can try to dress it up and call it an ‘agenda,’ but this is the same cookie-cutter stump speech he’s been using for months now,” Warner campaign spokesman David Turner said in an e-mail. “The simple fact is, while Ed Gillespie was making millions as a partisan operative and Washington lobbyist, Sen. Warner created nearly 130,000 jobs as governor and has introduced legislation in the Senate to create jobs and grow small businesses.”

Gillespie was short on details. He said he would flesh them out soon after the convention, assuming he beats his Republican rivals: retired Air Force pilot Shak Hill; businessman Chuck Moss; and Tony DeTora, a policy adviser to U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).

Gillespie took questions from reporters after describing his plan but avoided answering one about climate change. He was asked whether he believes that the climate is changing and, if so, whether he thinks that is the result of man-made carbon emissions. His response was a criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent proposal to slash carbon emissions from coal plants.

“Regardless of your views on whether or not human activity contributes to climate change, the policy that’s been put forward by this administration is not one, I believe, that would have a very beneficial effect in terms of air quality or climate change,” he said. “It ends up pushing more production and more coal-fired plants to countries that don’t have the same-air quality standards that we do. I believe that will actually have a negative impact on clean air and on carbon emissions, and, at the same time, kill jobs and raise prices for consumers.”

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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