In an interview following the annual Independence Day parade in Crozet in western Albemarle County on July 5, U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie said that “Republicans have learned a lesson” after presiding over unprecedented growth in the size and scope of government from 2001 to 2007, when the party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.
“The difference between Republicans and Democrats,” he told the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner at Claudius Crozet Park, “is, I think, Republicans have learned a lesson.”
Continuing, he noted that “the fact is, I agree that when Republicans had the House, the Senate, and the White House that we spent too much money.”
That experience from the first decade of the 21st century, he added, “pales in comparison to what the Democrats did when they got control of all three – the House, the Senate, and the White House – but that's not enough.”
'Size and scope'
Republicans, he said, “understand that, if we're given the opportunity to govern again, and we get majorities in the House and the Senate and then, certainly, the White House, we need to reduce the size and scope of the federal government and get it in its proper size and scope.”
Gillespie said that “there are a number of functions that the federal government performs that would better be performed by individuals in the private sector and by the states. I think the federal government over the past five years, in particular, has encroached on state prerogatives.”
When asked to name three federal programs that he would like to see eliminated, however, the GOP Senate candidate would name only one, the Export-Import Bank, which is due to be reauthorized in September.
“One that I have said already that I believe should not be reauthorized and doesn't deserve to be continued in funding is the ExIm Bank,” Gillespie said, “but we'll roll out more details later as we go along.”
Gillespie, who served in the George W. Bush administration and has been chairman of both the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia, explained that his victory over incumbent Democrat Mark Warner in November will be a harbinger of a GOP majority in the U.S. Senate.
“Not only would Mark Warner become the former Senator from Virginia,” he said, “but Harry Reid will become the former Senate majority leader. That would have a major impact on the future of the country: an immediate, beneficial, positive impact on the direction of the United States.”
Reid (D-Nev.), he said, “has bottled up legislation not just bills that have come from the House which deserve a fair hearing in the Senate.”
With a Republican majority in the Senate, Gillespie explained, “you will see a much more vigorous agenda” in the upper chamber “and we'd be able to work with a Republican House to get legislation to the President's desk.”
Asked whether a Republican-controlled Congress would repeal Bush-era laws that expanded the federal government, such as No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D, Gillespie expressed uncertainty.
“I don't know yet,” he said, “how much support there would be for that.”
Crozet's holiday parade was the fifth Gillespie had marched in so far this weekend. He said he was next heading to Virginia Beach to participate in festivities there.