BY REBECCA PALMER
BOUNTIFUL — U.S. presidential candidate Virgil Goode made a quiet campaign stop here last week to address a dedicated crowd and to spread the gospel of reading and adhering to the U.S. Constitution.
Goode, didn’t come with a gleaming campaign bus, Air Force One or even security protection, but the nominee from the Constitution Party inspired his supporters with a rousing speech about stopping immigration and reforming Washington.
The candidate wants to put a near-complete end to the issuance of work permits for foreign nationals, he said, and would institute harsh penalties for illegal immigrants. Amnesty in any form is not an option, he added.
“It’s time for the United States of American to say that citizen workers shall be first and that we’re going to protect American jobs for American citizens,” he said. “If I’m president, I’m going to do everything to put the American citizen at the top of the list for jobs, not at the back of the bus.”
With a slow southern drawl and a voice that raised the audience to its feet, Goode also spoke about overcoming PACs, super PACs and billionaires.
The candidate, a small-time attorney from Virginia, refuses to take donations of more than $200, and his campaign says any week that reaps $1,000 in donations is a good one.
Nevertheless, Goode thinks he can win. He maintains his positive attitude despite the fact that his name is on the ballot in fewer than 20 states.
“I’m not running this election to finish in last place,” he told the crowd. “I believe Americans will awake. They’re going to say ‘We’re tired of the same old usual in Washington, D.C.’”
Goode supports term limits for the U.S. Congress so lawmakers can be average citizens concerned about what’s best for the country instead of what’s best for the next campaign.
The ex-lawmaker is against lifetime politicians, but the 66-year-old has spent much of his own life in the political arena. He served in the Virginia State Senate for 24 years as a Democrat and spent 12 years as a U.S. congressman for the same party. He became an independent in 2000 and a Republican in 2002 before deciding on the Constitution Party.
Last week, the Board of Elections in Virginia voted unanimously to investigate the Goode campaign on suspicion of fraud regarding the petition forms it submitted to get on the ballot there.
The vote came after national polls predicted that Goode could be a spoiler for the Mitt Romney campaign in the state.
In Bountiful, about 150 people attended Goode’s speech, which doubled as a state meeting for the Constitiution Party. A handful of Utah candidates for positions such as governor and attorney general also addressed the crowd.
Bountiful resident Lynne Skowronski chose to attend at the last minute, although she has not been involved with the party.
“It makes sense to me,” she said of the main themes addressed during the evening. “This really seems to be where I want to plant my feet is with the Constitution, not with any particular party.”
Ivan Kunic of American Fork came with more enthusiasm, toting a book for Goode to sign.
“Goode knows his stuff,” said Kunic, who registers as a Republican but votes for Constitution Party candidates. “He understands the Constitution and he stands by it.”
Goode acknowledged that he can’t compete with dollars, but thinks that having correct ideas and spreading them through education and free Internet resources such as Facebook and Youtube will make his campaign a success, he said in an exclusive interview with the Clipper before his speech.
“I believe in 2012, the American citizens are fed up with the same old usual. They are fed up with someone with billions of dollars bankrolling the super PACs to promote Obama or Romney or, more likely, to tear down Obama or Romney,” he said. “It’s time for the average citizen to rule America, and if we work hard and work together we can send them a shock wave on Nov. the 6, 2012 that will rock them not only in the United States but around the world.”