Virgil Goode presidential campaign, 2012

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Virgil Goode for President
Virgil Goode for President 2012 logo.jpg
Campaign United States presidential election, 2012
Candidate Virgil Goode
United States House of Representatives
(1997-2009)
Affiliation Constitution Party
Headquarters Rocky Mount, Virginia
Key people Jim Clymer (running mate)
Lucy Goode (treasurer)
Receipts US$194,621 (2012-08-31)
Slogan Citizenship Matters
Website
Virgil Goode for President

The Virgil Goode presidential campaign of 2012 began when former U.S. Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia announced his decision to seek the 2012 presidential nomination of the Constitution Party in February 2012. During the nomination campaign, he put forth a four point plank that included his plans to restrict immigration, balance the federal budget, decrease the size of government, and institute congressional term limits.

After winning the Constitution Party's presidential nomination on the first ballot at the party's April 2012 national convention, Goode chose outgoing party chairman Jim Clymer as his running mate. The ticket coordinated ballot access efforts to add to the 16 states on which they had already qualified. Goode focused on his home state of Virginia, where polls showed the ticket with five to nine percent support.

During the general election campaign, Goode participated in numerous media interviews, and continuously faced criticism that he would act as a "spoiler" and take votes away from presumptive Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney and help President Barack Obama win re-election. In response, Goode argued that he was in the race to win and would take votes away from both candidates. By discussing alternative solutions, restricting individual campaign donations to $200 and not accepting money from Political Action Committees, Goode cast himself as a grassroots "average citizen" that offered a distinct choice for voters outside of "Tweedledum and Tweedledee".

Background[edit]

Main article: Virgil Goode
Official Congressional photo of Virgil Goode.

Virgil Goode was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1946. He served six years in the Army National Guard, and after graduating from law school, began his political career.[1] As an independent and advocate of the Equal Rights Amendment, he won a special election to the Senate of Virginia in 1973. After the election, he joined the Democratic Party and gained a reputation as a supporter of collective bargaining rights, fiscal conservatism,[2] gun rights, and the tobacco industry. During his tenure, he notably nominated L. Douglas Wilder for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1985, and backed Wilder's successful 1989 campaign for Governor of Virginia, which enabled Wilder to become the first elected African American governor of any U.S. state.[3] Goode ran for U.S. Senate in 1982, but lost in the Democratic primary.[1] In the 1990s, his relationship with the Democratic Party weakened, particularly after waging a primary challenge against incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Chuck Robb in 1994, and forcing state Senate Democrats to accept a power sharing agreement with Republicans in 1996.[3]

In 1996, Goode won election to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat for Virginia's 5th district, which included the towns of Martinsville, Danville, Charlottesville, and Timberlake. After being re-elected in 1998, Goode damaged relations with his party further after supporting three of the four articles of impeachment against Democratic President Bill Clinton. Shortly thereafter, Goode left the Democratic Party, and once again became an independent.[3] As an independent, Goode caucused with Republicans and was given a spot on the Appropriations Committee.[4] He was re-elected to his congressional seat in 2000 as an independent, and before the 2002 election, he officially joined the Republican Party. After winning re-election in 2002, he was re-elected twice more as a Republican in 2004 and 2006. The 2006 election also saw the election of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim Representative. Upon hearing that Ellison planned to be sworn in on a Qur'an, Goode wrote a controversial letter in which he argued, "If American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration, there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran."[3] Several members of Congress asked Goode to apologize, but he stood by the letter.[5]

Throughout his time in Congress, Goode consistently voted to restrict immigration, regularly voted against free trade agreements, and received a 100 percent approval rating from the National Right to Life Committee. He voted to authorize the War in Iraq, supported the USA PATRIOT Act, approved the Bush Tax Cuts, and voted against both the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts. Goode also participated in the libertarian-leaning Liberty Caucus,[6] and donated to the 2008 presidential campaigns of fellow caucus members Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo.[7]

Goode faced a difficult battle for re-election in 2008 against Democratic candidate Tom Perriello. In the end, Goode lost the election by 727 votes.[8] In early 2009, Goode filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to form a campaign to regain his former congressional seat in the 2010 election,[9] but he ultimately decided not to run.[10]

Early stages[edit]

Immediately following Goode's loss in the 2008 congressional race, the Independent Political Report reported that sources within the Constitution Party speculated that he would join their party and seek their 2012 presidential nomination.[11] Over the next two years, he expressed interest in the party. In June 2009, he spoke at the Constitution Party's National Committee meeting,[12] and was the keynote speaker at the May 2010 meeting. At the latter meeting, he paid the party's $35 dues and officially joined. Despite this, he remained a member of Republican Party as well and continued to pay dues to the Franklin County GOP. However, he later told The Daily Progress that his views were in greater accord with the Constitution Party on such national issues as support for Arizona SB 1070 and opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.[13]

Shortly after joining, Goode moved up in the Constitution Party ranks. Party founder and Virginia chairman Howard Phillips named him to the National Committee in 2010, and in November of that year, National Committee Chairman Jim Clymer appointed him to the party's Executive Committee.[12] The moves encouraged rumors that he was considering a 2012 presidential run. Such speculation continued in 2011,[14][15][16] as Goode increased his visibility in paleoconservative circles. He participated in a CPAC panel arguing against both illegal and legal immigration,[17] and wrote an article for The American Conservative opposing the passage of the South Korea–United States Free Trade Agreement.[18] In April 2011, after Goode delivered a speech at a Constitution Party meeting, the Constitution Party National Committee unanimously passed a resolution asking him to seek their presidential nomination.[19] In a press release, the party said that he had "expressed a strong interest" in the nomination.[20] Thereafter, Goode told The Roanoke Times that he would "consider it as the year progresses."[21] Clymer informed the publication that "There's nothing that I can see now that would prevent him from getting the nomination were he to say he indeed wants it."[21]

In reaction to the possibility, Goode's 2008 congressional campaign manager Tucker Watkins remarked that Goode would be an upgrade from the Constitution Party's 2008 nominee Chuck Baldwin, who appeared on 37 state ballots and won a 0.15 percent of the popular vote. However, Watkins admitted that that he "can't imagine [Goode] flying all over the country."[21] Madison Marye, who served with Goode in the Virginia Senate, felt it was likely Goode would run "because of his love for politics," and described him as a "political animal" that could energize a crowd.[21] Hollins University political science professor Ed Lynch lauded Goode's potential appeal to the Tea Party movement and his "personal conversation" style, but argued that his public speaking ability and strong Old Virginia accent could hurt his chances with the American audience.[21] Political strategist David Saunders speculated that if Goode chose to run, he would take votes away from the Republicans in Virginia and possibly sway the state to the Democrats.[21]

In November 2011, the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal covered a speech Goode delivered to the Lancaster County Constitution Party and noted that though he had yet to announce, he "sounded like a candidate." He discussed plans to cut government spending to the Department of Education, defense, and foreign aid; continued arguments against free trade agreements and immigration; and added his support for term limits in Congress. When asked about a presidential run, Goode commented, "I'll let people know [about a run] next year, by January or February...We've got sure disaster with Obama, and it's only prolonged a little with the Republicans. But tough choices have to be made. The Constitution Party offers the best choice out there."[22]

Nomination campaign[edit]

On February 10, 2012, Goode's wife and campaign treasurer Lucy Goode filed papers with the Federal Election Commission for Goode to seek the Constitution Party's 2012 presidential nomination. After the FEC received and posted the documents on their website four days later,[23] the media reported on the update.[24] Goode confirmed the news to The Daily Caller on February 16, and laid out his campaign's four-plank platform, which aimed for smaller government, increased border security, a balanced federal budget, and Congressional term limits. Additionally, in response to the speculation that as a conservative candidate, he would take votes away from the Republicans, Goode said he was limiting individual campaign contributions to $200 and would run a "grassroots campaign," which he felt would appeal to disaffected Democrats. He held, "If I’m fortunate enough to get the nomination of the Constitution Party, I will take as many votes from Obama as I would from the Republican nominee."[25] The next day, Goode set up a campaign website[26] and informed the press that he would formally announce his candidacy on February 21 in front of Federal Hall in New York City.[27]

During his announcement, Goode noted that Federal Hall was the site at which George Washington was sworn in as the first president in 1789. He listed the four planks of his platform including the return to limited government, which he asserted as forming the basis under which Washington and others founded the nation. In his call for a balanced federal budget, he argued, "we cannot wait five to ten years in the future to have a balanced budget; we must do that now." Moreover, he reaffirmed his plans to stop illegal immigration and reduce legal immigration, and again referenced Washington and the early congress in his endorsement for congressional term limits.[28] On the same day as the announcement, Josh Krasuhaar of The Atlantic wrote an article describing Goode as the "prototype" of a successful third-party candidate. Though Krasuhaar conceded that Goode's chances were slim, he argued that Goode as a populist, "would have the potential to get support from a swath of voters who would see both President Obama and Mitt Romney as elites disconnected from the concerns of working-class Americans."[29]

In the days following the announcement, Goode received little media attention. However, he was featured in a Richmond Times Dispatch article referring to him as "Mr. Independent",[30] and Wikinews published an interview with him in which he discussed his support for the Keystone Pipeline.[31]

Ahead of the National Convention, Goode participated in a U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan-sponsored debate on March 31 with fellow Constitution Party candidates Robby Wells, Susan Ducey, and Laurie Roth.[32] In an interview with The Roanoke Times after the debate, Goode judged the upcoming nomination as "a wide open affair [that] could go to any of the candidates."[33] The Constitution Party chairman of Virginia Mitch Turner observed that Goode had an advantage over the other candidates as a former federal officeholder, but held that that experience could be construed as a disadvantage since purist party members might oppose him due to his votes in favor of military interventions and the USA PATRIOT Act.[33]

National convention[edit]

The 2012 Constitution Party National Convention was held April 18–21 in Nashville, Tennessee. Just prior to the nomination, 2008 vice presidential nominee Darrell Castle decided to enter the race, saying several convention delegates had urged him to run.[34] Despite this, Goode was still able to win the nomination on the first ballot with 203 delegates. Castle came in second with 120, followed by Wells with 58, Ducey with 15, and Roth with six.[35] Goode became the party's first presidential nominee to have held elected office in the federal government.[36]

In his acceptance speech, Goode thanked his opponents, and presented himself as an alternative to President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Hoping to differentiate himself, he said that unlike Obama and Romney, he supports cutting the budget for education, "No Child Left Behind", and foreign aid, as well as auditing the Federal Reserve, and ending Diversity Visas. In addition, he mentioned his time in Congress, highlighting his pro-life stance on abortion while expressing regret for his PATRIOT Act vote. To conclude the address, Goode discussed his campaign's refusal to accept PAC money and donations over $200, and proclaimed:

It's time that the average citizen had the same voice in government as the Oracle of Omaha, the head of Google, the head of Facebook and all those entities. Let's stand up for the average citizen and not the special few. Let's elect me and the Constitution Party's ticket in 2012 and we will give America the change that it is needed and it won't be the Barack Obama change of 2008.[37]

Immediately following the speech, Goode spoke to Uncovered Politics about his proposals to improve the American economy. He listed a balanced federal budget as a "top priority" and said immigration should be limited to save "jobs for American citizens first."[38]

Afterwards, for the vice presidential nomination, the Constitution Party delegates picked Jim Clymer, Goode's preferred choice whose term as party chairman was expiring.[39] In his acceptance speech, he said that his nomination was unexpected, and that he looked forward to the campaign with both trepidation and eagerness. He referred to Goode as a "statesman", and expressed his belief that "we [The Constitution Party] have a presidential candidate who will carry the values of this party effectively...has the ability to attract a wide segment of people...and who has the credibility." Lastly, he called on supporters and party volunteers for assistance in ballot access efforts.[40] By the end of the convention, the party had attained access in 16 states: Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.[41][42] According to The Roanoke Times, Clymer, a native of Pennsylvania, planned to personally focus on ballot access drives in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.[36]

General election[edit]

Goode returned home after the convention, and participated in Constitution Party ballot access efforts in Virginia. In an interview with The Farmville Herald of Farmville, Virginia, he said that ballot access would be the campaign's focus for the next two months, hoping to gain access in "at least 40 states" for the general election. Goode also told the newspaper that he wanted to use the national media for exposure, but would rely on the internet to reach out to potential supporters, particularly those of Ron Paul following the Republican National Convention.[43] With Romney likely coming out of the convention as the GOP nominee, Goode told the Martinsville Bulletin that he also hoped to win support among those members of the Tea Party movement concerned about "Romneycare" and government spending. Additionally, he expressed his desire to appear in the national presidential debates, though he said it was a "tough row to hoe" due to the Commission on Presidential Debates's[44] inclusion criteria of having enough ballot access to theoretically win the election and holding an average of 15 percent support in at least five national polls.[45] Despite securing a spot on the New Mexico ballot to up the ticket's total of ballot-qualified states to 17,[46] the first criteria had not yet been met. Furthermore, by this point, Goode had not been included in any national polls, and so did not meet the second criteria either. Nevertheless, he did register five percent support in a late-April Public Policy Polling survey of Virginia voters.[47] Though short of the debate requirements, if replicated in the election, it would meet scholar Walter Dean Burnham's five percent threshold for successful third party runs.[48]

Exposure[edit]

In May, The Des Moines Register published an article titled, "Third Parties Goode News For Obama", which speculated that Goode would draw votes from Romney, particularly in the swing state of Virginia, and thus helping Obama win the election.[49] The "spoiler" label followed Goode throughout the campaign, but he maintained that he would take votes from both Romney and Obama, and felt confident in his ability to win.[50] He reflected this sentiment during a May 13 interview on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, saying that he wanted to give voters a choice, and hoped to take enough votes from both the Republicans and Democrats in order to win the election. In addition, during the interview, to highlight his support for term limits, Goode announced that if elected, he would only seek one term; in contrast to President Obama, whom Goode criticized for focusing too much on re-election than effective policy.[51]

After Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage in May, Goode held a press conference in Lynchburg, Virginia, affirming his opposition to the practice due to the "drain" of funds available for social security as a consequence of same-sex marriage benefits.[52] He was also concerned about the effect on health insurance costs and state retirement plans. Moreover, Goode attacked Romney's record on the issue, referring to him as "the father of homosexual marriages" because of his issuance of same-sex marriage licenses during his term as governor of Massachusetts.[53] Economic matters remained central to the Goode campaign. During a May 21 interview with World Net Daily, Goode discussed his plan to improve the U.S. economy and increase jobs. He said that as president, though it would be "painful", he would put forth a balanced federal budget, focusing cuts on discretionary spending and social services. As an example, he explained that he would use his power to prevent illegal and new immigrants from obtaining food stamps. Furthermore, he called for the lifting of certain regulations such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which he felt slowed the creation of jobs.[54]

Goode collects signatures for his Virginia ballot access petition in May 2012.

Near the end of May, John Long, a columnist for The Roanoke Times compared Goode's campaign to the role of Virgil in Dante's Inferno, explaining that he "eventually disappears, powerless to climb to the heights of Paradise. But he teaches the reader a thing or two before he fades away."[55] At this time, Goode continued to work on ballot access with petitions circulating in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia.[56] In addition to these states, during an interview with the Independent Political Report, Goode announced plans to get on some state ballots as an independent candidate and to seek the nomination of the California-ballot qualified American Independent Party. Moreover, he mentioned that several lawsuits were pending to challenge certain state laws that made it difficult to achieve ballot access. In the interview, he discussed potentially going to Tampa during the Republican National Convention to try to gain support from Ron Paul backers. He compared his views to those of Paul, affirming his support for a Federal Reserve audit, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and a return to the Gold Standard.[57]

On Memorial Day, Goode spoke at a Veterans Memorial Program in Clarksville, Virginia. Afterwards, he told the South Hill Enterprise that Romney and Obama represented "Tweedledum and Tweedledee", criticizing both for putting forth unbalanced budgets, specifically mentioning the deficit in the proposed budget of Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.[58] Elaborating on this criticism, during a June 5 interview with Star News, Goode said he supported cutting foreign aid and opposed the Ryan budget's proposed increases to defense, arguing "I'm pro-strong defense, but you can't get to a balanced budget unless you cut defense."[59] The next day, Goode repeated this view during a meeting with the Rotary Club of Martinsville at the Virginia Museum of Natural History; however, he pledged that as president he would not seek cuts to military salaries or veterans' benefits.[60] James Antle of the The American Conservative discussed Goode's evolving views on defense matters and foreign policy. He observed that Goode had embraced non-interventionism, but still expressed the belief that pre-invasion Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, and used a tone "a bit off for someone who is leading a party that truly advocates a humble foreign policy" when arguing that the U.S. "send Iran a clear message that if we are assaulted, we will meet it and trump it."[61] Discussing the comments, Antle's fellow American Conservative writer Daniel Lairson concluded that "it doesn’t make for much of a protest candidacy if the third party candidate can’t make his differences with the major parties sufficiently clear."[62]

On the campaign trail[edit]

The Constitution Party announced in its bimonthly newsletter that Goode would travel to Buffalo and Syracuse at the end of June to coordinate ballot access efforts with the Constitution Party of New York.[63] Before this, he held a town hall meeting in Craig County, Virginia, and asked supporters to sign petitions. He noted that 10,000 signatures, with 400 per 11 of the state's congressional districts, were necessary to qualify for the Virginia ballot, but that the campaign planned to obtain more than necessary to account for ineligible signatures. Discussing the low level of media coverage for the campaign, he said it was the result of not having as much money as the Romney and Obama campaigns. Nevertheless, he also differentiated himself from other third party candidates, saying he would not accept federal funding for his campaign. He also discussed at length his opposition to immigration. Arguing that Obama and the Democrats encourage immigration from Third World nations with a "socialist bent" to gain reliable supporters, Goode proclaimed that if immigration is not changed, the U.S. as a whole will move toward socialism. He added that Romney is "not going to do anything" about the issue either, because "the big funders of the Republican Party want low wages."[64] After returning from his stop in New York,[65] Continuing on the issue, Goode held a press conference at the Comfort Inn in Roanoke to compare his views on President Obama's policy to not deport certain illegal immigrants, with Romney, who campaigned in nearby Salem. Goode proclaimed, "Unlike Romney, if I am elected President, I will promptly rescind the Obama amnesty order."[66]

At the beginning of July, Gallup included Goode in a national presidential poll; the first of his run. Along with Romney and Obama, he was included with the Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson and the presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein. Goode came in last place with less than 0.5 percent of respondents while Stein received one percent, and Johnson gauged three percent. Romney and Obama polled at 40 and 47 percent respectively.[67] Shortly thereafter, Public Policy Polling showed Goode with nine percent in Virginia, taking most of his support from conservatives and Republicans.[68] The Washington Times,[69] the Richmond Times-Dispatch,[70] and The Washington Post[71] all published articles questioning whether Goode would cost Virginia for Romney. Though Goode continued to argue that he would take votes from both the Democrats and Republicans, Democratic strategist Paul Goldman labeled the run as a "net loss for Romney",[69] and Republican consultant Chris LaCivita said, "if you want to see Barack Obama reelected president of the United States, do whatever you can for Virgil Goode."[71] Nevertheless, the Times noted that third party support generally falls before the election, and that according to University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth, even within Virginia, Goode is less-known outside his former congressional district.[69] However, Bob Holsworth, a political analyst for Richmond's WTVR-TV said that Goode could make an impact in Virginia with much less than nine percent support, "if he pulls 2, 3, 4 percent, and in all likelihood those votes would come from people who are more likely to support Mitt Romney."[72] Goode addressed this issue during a July 12 interview with Washington D.C.'s WMAL-AM radio, arguing that Romney "is like putty" and not much different from Obama. He described himself as an "average citizen" and said he was offering a choice to voters as a candidate not beholden to moneyed interests, who is in favor of term limits and reducing the distribution of green cards.[73]

It was revealed on July 19 that Goode had collected 14,000 Virginia signatures to surpass the outright 10,000 required to appear on the ballot. As a cushion, Goode expected to submit 20,000 before the August 24 deadline. According to The Washington Post, the Independent Greens of Virginia, a party not affiliated with the national Green Party, had helped secure a quarter of the signatures after Goode announced his support for light rail.[74][75] After this, Goode campaigned in Birmingham, Alabama,[76] and then traveled to Raleigh, where he filled out paperwork to appear as a recognized write-in candidate in North Carolina.[77] Time Magazine ran an article on Goode on August 1, covering the campaign including an allegory of Goode nearly missing a speech after helping a dog that a truck had stricken. Discussing his limits on fundraising with Time, Goode asserted, "if you want big money candidates, you’ve got two great ones running," referencing Romney and Obama.[78]

In August, Goode made stops in Kentucky, Illinois, and Iowa before campaigning in the West.[79] Meanwhile, the campaign received some media coverage after the Virginia Board of Elections and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli initiated an investigation into alleged petition fraud and forgery,[80] which the campaign vehemently rejected. Moreover, MSNBC's The Last Word featured a segment on Goode, in which it discussed his views and campaign issues, as did The Salt Lake Tribune, which previewed his western campaign swing.[81] On the trail, after departing the Midwest, Goode appeared outside the State Capitol in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he spoke before a crowd of 20 supporters, characterizing himself as "a true grassroots president who will answer the telephone from somebody sitting in this audience...as quick as [he] would take a call from somebody like Warren Buffett or a heavy hitter from Bain Capital."[82] Next, he held a town hall meeting with about 100 people in Bountiful, Utah,[79] before stopping in Reno, Nevada to field questions at the Reno Town Mall.[83] Thereafter, Goode arrived in California to attend the nominating convention of the American Independent Party at Perkos Restaurant in Sacramento. At the event, America's Party nominee Tom Hoefling won the nomination unanimously over Goode, guaranteeing the Constitution Party ticket would not appear on the California ballot.[84]

Ballot Access[edit]

The Goode/Clymer ticket had ballot access in the following states:[85]

State – Electoral Votes – State Party

Total: 26 states – 257 electoral votes

The campaign has write-in status in the following states:[85]

Total: 16 states – 232 electoral votes

Election Results[edit]

Goode received 121,452 votes nationwide. This amounted to 0.09% of the vote. Goode came in 5th place, behind the two major party nominees as well as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.[88]

Endorsements[edit]

  • Jay Anderson, former Mayor of Columbia, Virginia [89]
  • Steven Andrew, Pastor and President of USA Christian Ministries [90]
  • Daniel Cassidy, columnist, conservative activist, and former Republican staffer[91]

References[edit]

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