But for Gilmore, the coverage of his departure from the presidential race probably marks a high point in media attention over the life of his six-month campaign. And where Gilmore, the individual, is concerned, his announcement really raises one central question.
What, exactly, about Gilmore’s life will actually be any different tomorrow?
From the very start, Gilmore has run a race that was not just — to borrow a phrase from Donald Trump — low-energy but also, it seemed, low-effort. Gilmore announced his White House run via a video clip posted on the Internet. That may have been the last time many voters saw him.
Gilmore, who knows enough about campaigning to have served as Virginia’s governor between 1998 and 2002 and to hold the Republican National Committee chairmanship for the better part of a year in 2001, was the man running for the White House by, it seems, not running at all.
In memory of Gilmore’s most unusual White House run, The Fix compiled this partial and briefest of timelines.
- In August, about two weeks after Gilmore entered the race, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd talked with the already-dominant GOP candidate, Donald Trump. In what was dubbed a lightning round of questions inviting Trump to share his thoughts on each and every one of his competitors and potential competitors, what Trump said about Gilmore was pretty telling: “Him, I don't know.” That same month, Gilmore sat for a televised interview with CNN and told the Washington Times that he was excited to engage in a “substantive debate.” He secured a slot on a CNN undercard stage. And, he did have specific policy ideas. He told Forbes magazine all about his education policies that month.
- In early September, The Washington Post reported in one of the only deep examinations of Gilmore’s platform and candidacy that he was not actively campaigning because he was, in his own words, too busy setting up his campaign. That same month, Gilmore found himself in a by-now-familiar position. It wasn’t clear whether CNN would allow him to join other Republican candidates during the undercard debate. Translation: His position in the polls was incredibly weak even among those at the bottom of the race. In the end, CNN did not allow him to join the undercard gathering. But he did live-tweet the event from home. And this was just two months into his run. There was, however, some campaign-like news of the usual variety: Gilmore hired staff in South Carolina.
- By October, the Gilmore campaign had gained so little voter traction that CNBC announced Gilmore did not have the standing in the polls to qualify for a slot on its GOP undercard debate stage. In short, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), former New York governor George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) could all boast bigger voter support than Gilmore. In the months that would follow, those men all exited the race before Gilmore.
- In November, Gilmore aired a multi-state campaign ad — the first, as far as we could tell, of his campaign. It centered on terrorism and aired in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. And, it seems, Gilmore took to describing himself as “the veteran’s candidate.”
- In December, Gilmore told the Augusta (Va.) Free Press that he wasn’t dropping out any time soon. He was in the middle of executing a logical strategy intended to elect a candidate with the traditional credentials that put men in the White House. The only thing is, nothing about the electorate in 2016 has thus far indicated that they are seeking another man who has served as a governor and, for a short time, held a post at the very top of the Republican establishment to fill the Oval Office.
- On Friday, CBS News announced that Gilmore had failed to meet its criteria to participate in its Saturday Republican presidential primary debate. The decision left Gilmore the only reputable Republican contender who would not have a spot on the debate stage.
- All told, Gilmore picked up a grand total of 145 votes in Iowa and New Hampshire combined. That’s right, 145.