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Former Virginia Gov. Gilmore to Explore Presidential Bid

Jim Gilmore, a tax-slashing former Virginia governor, announced he will explore a presidential bid in 2008.

Citing what he said was the lack of a true conservative in the field of GOP White House prospects, Gilmore said Tuesday he will charter a federal committee in January that would allow him to assess his chances for the race himself.

"There is not a committed conservative in the field who can put together a national campaign. I am and I can. I have people on the ground right now in Iowa and in South Carolina," Gilmore, 57, said in a telephone interview from New York.

His comments were directed not only at others preparing for a GOP presidential run, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and departing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. It's also yet another of his many slaps at lavish federal spending by the current Republican administration and Congress.

"I am not someone who has to evolve as a conservative. I don't have to evolve my position," he said.

Gilmore was easily elected governor in 1997 on a promise to cut the despised property tax local governments assess on personal cars and pickup trucks. He served one term and could not seek re-election because Virginia uniquely bars successive terms for its governors.