- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 2, 2001

From combined dispatches
NORFOLK Gov. James S. Gilmore III last night denied reports that he resigned as chairman of the Republican National Committee because of internal friction with some of President Bush's top advisers.
"It's just not true," Mr. Gilmore said in an interview last night at the annual Republican Advance in Norfolk. "I don't think you can point to anything that says that. It's just sheer fiction."
Mr. Gilmore resigned Friday after less than a year in office and less than a month after Democrats won closely watched elections for governor in Virginia and New Jersey, and six weeks before his term as governor ends. State law prohibits Mr. Gilmore from seeking re-election.
Although some Republicans criticized Mr. Gilmore over losses in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections last month, he and his advisers said he is stepping down for family reasons.
"He's just really feeling the need to spend more time with his family at home," said Dick Leggitt, Mr. Gilmore's political adviser. "When you have a bad day, you can go home and be with your family. When he has a bad day, he goes to sleep in a hotel in Des Moines. He just can't do that anymore."
In a statement Friday, Mr. Gilmore said he was resigning to spend more time with his family. The governor has been busy since taking the RNC post with being chairman of the congressional terrorism commission. With his wife, Roxane, two sons and his elderly father at home, Mr. Gilmore was often away, visiting 26 states this year.
"Since assuming chairmanship of the RNC last January while fulfilling those duties as well as my responsibilities as governor and as chairman of the terrorism commission I have spent 107 nights on the road away from Roxane and the boys," Mr. Gilmore said.
The job as RNC chairman will require substantial travel in the months before the 2002 elections. "I just don't want to be away 200 or 300 days a year," he said.
Mr. Leggitt said Mr. Gilmore perhaps realized that he wasn't able to fulfill his duties any longer one day last week, when he had 22 appointments and later at night traveled to West Virginia to give a speech at a Republican conference.
However, news reports suggested that Mr. Gilmore resigned because of internal strife in the RNC. Senior Republicans acknowledged occasional tension between Mr. Gilmore and White House officials but said Friday they were surprised by his departure.
"Why would I want to have any friction between myself and the White House? I don't think there was any," Mr. Gilmore said.
U.S. Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, said he had no knowledge of any friction. "I accept Governor Gilmore's statement and I trust his judgment," Mr. Warner said.
Mr. Gilmore's decision to step down should not significantly mar his attractiveness as a candidate for future political office, Mr. Warner said in an interview last night.
"If he decides to run again, he does so on the basis of extensive experience," Mr. Warner said, adding that an appointive office is also a possibility for Mr. Gilmore.
"I think the man has a great future," Mr. Warner said.
State GOP Chairman Gary Thomson agreed with Mr. Warner that Mr. Gilmore would not be considered damaged goods in a future race.
Mr. Thomson, a member of the RNC, said he was convinced that President Bush "not only didn't force Gilmore out but didn't want him to leave."
"Jim Gilmore has always been a loyal party person," Mr. Thomson said. "He is held in high regard."
Friends said Mr. Gilmore made his decision during a 10-minute telephone conversation with President Bush at about 6 p.m. Thursday. In a statement regarding Mr. Gilmore's resignation, Mr. Bush said, "I understand the decision Governor Gilmore has made. I wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors and will continue to seek his wise counsel as a friend and confidant."
The White House immediately began conducting a search for Mr. Gilmore's successor, asking for suggestions from party activists and interest groups. A leading contender for the job is former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, a personal friend of President Bush's, several Republicans close to the search process said.
Mr. Gilmore recently decided to seek a job with a law firm after leaving office next year. He asked White House political director Ken Mehlman to clear the job with White House chief political strategist Karl Rove, and Mr. Rove agreed, Republicans who were privy to the conversations told The Washington Times.

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