Politics

Virginia’s Goode could be Romney’s undoing

Virginia's Goode could be Romney's undoing

While many on the right fear that Constitution Party presidential candidate Virgil Goode might just draw enough votes in his native Virginia to tip the Old Dominion’s 14 electoral votes from Mitt Romney to Barack Obama, the former six-term congressman made it clear he doesn’t care.

Goode, in fact, feels that “in many ways, for conservatives, it might be better to have Obama as president next year rather than Romney.”

The 65-year-old Goode spoke to Human Events last week as he and his supporters were in the process of gathering the 10,000 signatures they need to submit before the Aug. 24 deadline to qualify for Virginia’s November ballot. Founded by Conservative Caucus chairman and venerable conservative leader Howard Phillips, the Constitution Party is so far on the ballot in 17 states. Right now, Goode told us, the party is making attempts to secure ballot positions in other key states such as Arkansas, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania — the home state of the Constitution Party’s vice presidential nominee Jim Clymer.

But what has clearly set off alarm bells among conservatives lately is the scenario of Goode making the ballot in Virginia — where he won the 5th District U.S. House seat as a Democrat, Independent, and Republican from 1996 until his narrow defeat in 2008. Polls show the state, which Obama narrowly carried over John McCain in 2008, seesawing between the president and his Republican opponent in 2012. A just-completed Quinnipiac Poll showed Obama and Romney tied among likely Virginia voters, with each getting 44 percent — down from Obama’s 47 to 42 percent edge in the same poll in June.

Of particular concern to Republicans is Goode’s strength in his home turf: the Danville-Charlottesville area that he represented in Congress and previously as state senator. Four years after he lost the closest House race, the former congressman remains popular in his former turf. In addition, his hard-line stance on immigration, strong emphasis on limited government and focus on following the U.S. Constitution seems more likely to woo Virginians who would otherwise vote for Romney than those inclined to Obama.

“If I’m on the ballot in Virginia, I could cost Obama a lot of votes — possibly as much as or even more than Romney,” Goode told us, repeating a line that many third party contenders have taken over the years. “There are a lot of life-long Democrats (in the Fifth District) who say they’ll hold their nose and vote for Obama. But as the fellow in the filling station up the road told me, ‘I’m a Democrat, but if you’re on the ballot, Virgil, I’m voting for you.’”

We recalled how much as it was widely interpreted that Obama’s victory by a plurality over John McCain in North Carolina in 2008 was due to votes for Libertarian Bob Barr. We then pointed out to Goode that, regardless of his interpretation, pundits and political analysts would almost certainly interpret a narrow Obama win in Virginia to a strong Goode showing and asked how he would feel then.

“In many ways, for conservatives, it might be better to have Obama as president next year rather than Romney,” replied Goode, explaining that “it would be tougher to get through Congress some bad things under Obama than it would under Romney.”

“Take one for the team? Not me brother!”

Recalling how the president announced earlier this year his order not to pursue deportation of illegal aliens who complete high school or join the military, Goode noted that “Romney wouldn’t come out against the short-term amnesty. He was just going with the wind. If Obama were president, Republicans in Congress would oppose him on things like this on principle and almost unanimously. But if Romney were president, he would probably get it through (Congress).

“Remember how (Republican presidential candidate Rick) Santorum explained his vote for the No Child Left Behind (federal education program under George W. Bush) by saying: ‘Sometimes you’ve got take one for the team.’ That’s the argument Romney would use with Republicans to get them to pass things they normally wouldn’t oppose.”

As a Democrat in Congress in the 1990s, Goode pointed out that he voted a strong right-to-life line despite the fact that the Democratic leadership was in the other camp on the abortion issue. As a Republican from 2002-08, he said, “I was urged to ‘take one for the team’ and vote for CAFTA (a free trade agreement). I didn’t think it was good for the country and I opposed it. Sometimes you have to show some backbone.”

As a Democrat, Goode in the House scored unusually high ratings of 84 percent and 83 pe cent with the American Conservative Union; as an independent and later a Republican, his ratings went higher and his lifetime ACU average in 96 percent.

In carrying the banner of the Constitution Party, Virgil Goode is again not “taking one for the team.” Whether he qualifies for the Virginia ballot Aug. 24 and how well he does in his home state will surely be watched there, as well as by Republicans nationwide.

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