Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore on Thursday entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination with an Internet-driven announcement he said allows him to talk directly to voters.

"This is going to be something unique in American politics and something I think is the wave of the future, which is the chance to talk directly to the people as we develop the campaign through the Internet," Gilmore said.

He made his announcement in a webcast originating from the Iowa Republican Party headquarters in Des Moines and sent out over his campaign's Web site.

Gilmore offered a sharply conservative theme that he said distanced him from GOP rivals who are better known and financed.

"This is a campaign about national security and the security of Americans everywhere," Gilmore said.

In an interview, Gilmore said singled out former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain as the top three candidates in the GOP field that he needs to beat.

"I don't think Mayor Giuliani has even suggested he's a conservative," said Gilmore. "Senator McCain has not made his reputation as a conservative. He's made it as a maverick."

He said Romney is shifting his views to offer himself as a conservative, but that won't work.

"The difference is he is attempting to shift into becoming a conservative," said Gilmore.

Gilmore, who headed the Republican National Committee in 2001, formed a presidential exploratory committee earlier this year, but raised only about $200,000 through March. He left office in Virginia in January 2002.