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Gilmore Drops Presidential Candidacy

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DIONNE WALKER | July 14, 2007 11:42 PM EST | AP

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RICHMOND, Va. — Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore ended his long-shot campaign for presidency on Saturday, acknowledging he couldn't raise enough money.

The former Republican National Committee chairman is the first of the 10 GOP presidential candidates to drop out. He barely registered in the polls, and his latest financial disclosure report showed him with about $90,000 in cash on hand.

A former Army intelligence officer and state prosecutor, Gilmore had stumped on reducing illegal immigration and creating a new strategy in Iraq.

"I've developed a national following," Gilmore said in a telephone interview. "But that following really hasn't included getting a fundraising group together."

In a written statement, the 57-year-old meat-cutter's son said his late start, near the end of April, and the front-loaded primary schedule "have made it impractical to continue."

Gilmore also underwent emergency surgery for a detached retina last month, which forced him to cancel at least a week's worth of campaign appearances.

"I've had a chance to appear with the other candidates, and I think I've stood toe-to-toe with them," he said in the interview. But "the reality is we're raising money in the hundreds of thousands, and the front runners are raising in the millions."

One GOP frontrunner, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani reported $18.3 million on hand Friday.

"I have come to believe that it takes more than a positive vision for our nation's future to successfully compete for the presidency," Gilmore's statement said. "I believe that it takes years of preparation to put in place both the political and financial infrastructure to contest what now amounts to a one-day national primary in February."

More than 30 states will hold primaries or caucuses by Feb. 10. The primary in Virginia, where Gilmore is best known, is Feb. 12.

Gilmore said he felt there was an opening for a conservative candidate in the Republican field for president in 2008 when he announced he was exploring a run for the White House.

Elected governor of Virginia in 1997, he served the one term allowed by state law. Before that, he was Virginia's attorney general.

President Bush appointed him Republican National Committee chairman, a job Gilmore held for about a year. He left the job after Democrats won the governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey.

"I'm the type of mainstream Reagan conservative that has always kept his promises," Gilmore said when he filed papers early this year to form a presidential exploratory committee.