Ed Gillespie, a Republican, was born the son of an Irish immigrant. He grew up working in the grocery store his parents owned. According to his campaign website, neither of his parents ever went to college, but they strongly encouraged him to attend.
He worked his way through college at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is married to his wife Cathy, and they have two daughters and a son.
Gillespie served as a long-time policy and communications aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. In 1994, he was a principal drafter of the Republican campaign platform called the Contract with America, which helped the Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. According to his campaign website, Gillespie also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, and in 2004, he became the first Grand Old Party chairman in 80 years to preside over a Republican White House, House and Senate.
In 2000, Gillespie co-founded a bipartisan public affairs group called Quinn Gillespie and Associates, which is one of Washington, D.C.’s premier government relations firms. He served as counselor to the president in the last 18 months of the Bush Administration. According to his campaign website, he has also served as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee, and was chairman of Bob McDonnell’s successful gubernatorial campaign in 2009.
Outside of politics, Gillespie served on the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America. He also volunteered for five years as a basketball coach at St. Louis Catholic School. He, his wife, and their son are involved with Crossover Basketball and Scholars Academy, an organization in India that uses basketball as a way to encourage academic participation.
According to his website, Gillespie stands for conservative principles of limited, effective government and personal liberty. He has spent his political career fighting for these principles to help make the lives of Virginians better and more prosperous. According to his campaign website, his goal is to make sure that the American dream that brought his father to the U.S. remains within reach for future generations.
Q: Why should a college student vote for you?
A: Under the Obama-Warner policies, college students preparing to graduate are entering a job market in which 46 percent of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed. And, they hold a combined $1.2 trillion of student loan debt.
I put forward a five-point economic growth plan called the Ed Gillespie Agenda for Economic Growth, which would be the polar opposite of the failed philosophy of diminished expectations we have endured for the last six years with Mark Warner and President Obama. My policies would get our economy moving again and provide opportunities for
I will also work to balance the federal budget, to stop imposing more and more debt on future generations and save entitlement programs for future generations.
Q: What, if any, legislation could be considered to give religious institutions, such as Liberty University, the right to be exempt from federal mandates that violate their conscience?
A: The First Amendment guarantees our religious liberty. It is a violation of our Constitution for the government to abridge freedom of conscience, and I would fight any attack on this fundamental right.
Q: What plans do you have or support to help alleviate student loan debt while simultaneously ensuring quality higher education?
A: While implementing my plan for economic growth will help with job prospects, we also need to improve financial aid and higher education. Reform proposals such as correlating student loan payments with income levels would give these new entrants in our workforce the ability to manage their payments effectively.
We need to do better in informing students earlier in the school selection process. FAFSA is complicated, confusing and time-consuming. This is why I support simplifying the process and accelerating the timeline for when students learn about their financial aid eligibility.
Additionally, a key hindrance to greater choice and cost effectiveness in higher education is the antiquated federal accreditation system. By turning the system over to the states, with the Department of Education maintaining a role in overseeing federal dollars, a focus on decentralization and a reduction of outdated regulatory barriers could enhance competition throughout higher education.
Q: What is your position on abortion?
A: I am pro-life and believe we should foster a community and culture that respects life in every stage.
Q: With the recent spread of terrorism, particularly ISIS, how do you think the U.S. should respond?
A: Under the policies of President Obama and Sen. Warner, our federal government is doing too many things better left to state and local governments or the private sector and failing at too many things it should be doing right — our national security is paramount among them. This White House has described the president’s approach to foreign policy as one of “leading from behind.” There is another word for that, and that word is “following.” When the U.S. recedes from a leadership role in the world, the world becomes a more
The Unites States must resume its leadership role in the world, and that starts with repealing the arbitrary and dangerous cuts triggered by sequestration, which, as noted by the bipartisan National Defense Panel, was a “serious strategic misstep.”
I believe the president must seek an Authorization for Use of Military Force when he believes it is necessary to take military action like he is against ISIS. Congress has a constitutional role in deciding to send our military into harm’s way.
Q: What are your thoughts on the use of executive action?
A: The executive branch has authority to faithfully execute the laws, but it does not have authority to create laws or ignore those that have been enacted. Obama has repeatedly abused executive authority.
Q: What are your top three priorities concerning congressional legislation?
A: My priority is economic growth, specifically the policies I put forward in The Ed Gillespie Agenda for Economic Growth:
•Replacing Obamacare: I will vote to replace Obamacare with a real reform plan that puts patients first and provides more affordable options.
•Unleashing American Energy: I believe in an energy approach that embraces both traditional and alternative energy resources. We can protect our environment while ensuring access to the energy resources.
•Tax and Regulatory Relief: We need to reduce one of the highest marginal business tax rates in the world to make American companies more competitive, while at the same time easing the tax burden on
individuals and families.
•Education Reform: I will work tirelessly to empower parents to make the educational choices that are in their children’s best interests.
•Cutting Wasteful Spending: One of the most important steps we can take to get America’s economy moving again is to rein in reckless federal spending. As senator, I will support a Balanced Budget Amendment and fight to cut wasteful spending.
Q: What separates you from other candidates?
A: Mark Warner is not the senator he said he would be, not the senator so many Virginians hoped he would be. He said he would be an independent voice for us, but votes with President Obama 97 percent of the time, including casting a deciding vote for Obamacare, voting for $7 trillion in debt and $1 trillion in new taxes and supporting cap-and-trade legislation.
Virginians need a senator who will fight for economic opportunity — policies that create jobs, raise take-home pay, lift people out of poverty, hold down health care costs and reduce energy prices. I will be a check on President Obama, not a blank check for him. We cannot afford six more years of the last six years.