John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Attack on Gillespie

Posted on October 12, 2010

President George W. Bush and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie (L) are shown during a photo op in the Oval Office June 13, 2007. Bush named Gillespie to replace Dan Bartlett as his new White House counselor. (June 13, 2007 - Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images News)

I have known Ed Gillespie for a long time. He is good guy. He is honest as the day is long. He is a hard worker. He is a smart strategist and he understands policy.

When President Bush called on him to work in White House, Gillespie left his thriving strategic advocacy firm (Quinn Gillespie, a firm that I will be joining at the end of this month in full disclosure), at considerable personal expense, to help out the President.

Gillespie felt that if called to service by the President, you don’t tell the President no. It is that sense of patriotic duty that drives Gillespie.

Sure, Ed is a conservative, but he has enough Democrats in his family tree to understand how Democrats think. He teamed with Jack Quinn to help him create his bipartisan firm, and he gets along famously with Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee Chairman.

Gillespie is smart enough to abide by the laws of the land and patriotic enough to believe in the laws of the land. He is not some dark force that is attempting to spread evil around the universe.

But that is not how the DNC sees it. They see Gillespie as the devil incarnate. They have a new ad that blasts Gillespie, Karl Rove (his predecessor in the White House), and, implausibly, the Chamber of Commerce, by accusing them of funneling secret money from China into political campaigns.

I have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out why they are picking on Ed Gillespie. It is not like he is on the ballot anywhere (not yet, anyway). It is not like he is some famous figure, like a Newt Gingrich or a George Bush.

Gillespie is famous inside the beltway, but I doubt that most folks in Peoria would know who he is.

Then, I started thinking. Who is head of the DNC? Tim Kaine. Where is Tim Kaine from? Virginia? What is Tim Kaine going to do next? Possibly run for the Senate.

Who might Tim Kaine’s opponent be?

Well, none other than Ed Gillespie, who also lives in Virginia. Gillespie is being touted in some circles as a natural to run against either Mark Warner or more likely, Jim Webb. Kaine, who can’t be too excited with Webb’s performance as Senator, might very well run in a primary against him.

Are these DNC ads the first shot in the Senate campaign of 2012?

That makes more sense than the idea that these news ads are having any impact on this current midterm election.

Attacking the Chamber of Commerce makes no sense. Attacking Karl Rove, who is never going to run for office, makes little sense. Attacking Ed Gillespie? Well, that only makes sense in the mind of Tim Kaine, who sees a potential rival in the next election.

If I were a Democrat, I would be pretty angry that Tim Kaine is using DNC money to try to further his own career by running ads against Ed Gillespie. Of course, these days, I am pretty glad I am not a Democrat.