Smoky Mountains Sunrise

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Constitution Party Nominates Virgil Goode for President

The former Congressman has held strong views on illegal immigration and citizenship.

By Arielle Retting
Congressman Virgil Goode
Former U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode of Rocky Mount secured the Constitution Party's nomination for president at the party's convention Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

Goode was one of six candidates vying for the spot. He won on the first round of balloting with 203 votes, with 202 votes needed to receive the nomination.

Goode served 24 years in the Virginia Senate — making headlines when he helped parlay a power-sharing agreement between Democrats and Republicans after the 1995 elections left it evenly split. He was elected to Congress in 1996, succeeding L.F. Payne. Goode left the Democratic Party to become an independent before the 2000 election and then joined the Republican Party ahead of the 2002 election. Goode was unseated in 2008 by Democrat Tom Perriello.

Goode is the first presidential nominee for the Constitution Party to hold a federally elected office, said Mitch Turner, chairman of the Constitution Party of Virginia. Goode's records, experience and positions will be "a stark contrast" to the other candidates and will bring in voters who otherwise might not have come to the polls, Turner said.

Goode said he plans to attract voters such as Democrats who are dissatisfied with President Barack Obama and Republicans who don't align with presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's policy positions.

"Romney's and Obama's positions are not all that different. There's not much distinction," Goode said. "My position would be significantly different from either of them."

Goode historically has held strong views on illegal immigration and citizenship. He said he plans to focus on unemployment by cutting down on the number of green card issuances and "keeping American jobs for American citizens first."

He also said he opposes automatic citizenship and public assistance through programs such as Medicaid and food stamps for the children of illegal immigrants.

Goode said he supports substantially cutting government spending in areas such as foreign aid, food stamps, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education and the Department of Defense to reduce the national debt and balance the budget.

"We can't afford to wait five or 10 years from now because it [the debt] is $15.7 trillion and constantly rising," Goode said. "Really everything would have to be on the table."

The Constitution Party was on the ballot in 37 states in the 2008 presidential race, receiving 0.15 percent of the popular vote. The Constitution Party likely won't be on the ballot in every state this November because of stringent requirements in states such as North Carolina and Texas, Goode said, but it has volunteers working to secure spots in as many states as possible. 

"This is not just a run to get a message out. We are going to be on enough state ballots to be seriously competitive in the election," Turner said.

Goode has already secured a spot on the ballot in 15 states, including Florida, Ohio and Colorado. In order to qualify for Virginia's ballot, Goode will need 10,000 signatures from across the state, including 400 from each congressional district.

James Clymer of Pennsylvania, who has served as chairman of the Constitution Party since 1999, will serve as Goode's running mate. Leading up to Election Day, Clymer will focus on getting on the ballot and securing votes in the Northeast, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, Goode said.

Goode said he will only take donations of up to $200 per person from anyone except for immediate family and will not accept political action committee donations. If elected, he said he would serve only one term.

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