U.S. Senate Republican nominee Daniel Gade has been hot on the campaign trail recently as he looks to unseat incumbent Mark Warner, who has held the Senate seat since 2008.
The retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and former West Point Academy professor made a stop at Smith Mountain Lake last Wednesday to speak at an event hosted by the Proud Patriots of SML at Mango’s Bar & Grill.
President of the club, Lorie Smith, got the packed crowd fired up when she introduced Gade, who expressed lots of gratitude for being able to come to the lake area.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be here with you tonight and deeply grateful for the chance to come to your little slice of heaven,” he said.
Gade spoke about his life journey and how he got to this point, which involved a lot of tough life decisions that he addressed as “fork in the road.” His first decision that involved a fork in the road was deciding at age 17 to enlist in the U.S. Army and serve the country.
“I was choosing a fork where one fork was to do my own thing and the other was to serve the Constitution, and I chose the Constitution,” Gade said. “Because when I am given an opportunity to serve, that’s what I do.”
In 2004, Gade was serving overseas in the Republic of Korea as a tank company commander. His boss came to him and asked him if he would go with his soldiers to Iraq.
“I knew I was at a fork in the road again,” he said. “And the fork in the road was do I go to war or do I stay in safety? And of course, when you’re at a fork in the road, you chose the harder right over the easier wrong. So I decided to go to war.”
Serving for five months since he went to the Middle East as a tank company commander, Gade saw combat twice and was decorated for valor. The second combat wound turned out to be a very serious and life-changing experience for Gade. An injury caused Gade to have his right leg amputated.
“I ended up in the hospital, and I ended up flat on my back for months and months and months,” he said.
Gade went through 40 surgeries in the process.
Gade’s new boss then came to him and asked if he wanted to stay in the Army, which Gade mentioned he did consider it, and it was a really crazy idea to consider. His new boss asked him if he wanted to continue to serve, and Gade was met with a fork in the road again. And like his previous choices, Gade continued to serve.
Gade then went to graduate school and got his master’s degree, but after that, he got a once-in-a-lifetime phone call from the White House. President George H. Bush’s office called Gade and asked him if he wanted to come serve in the White House doing Veterans Policy for the Bush Administration.
“When the White House calls, you always say ‘yes,’” Gade said. “Of course, I did that, and I was happy to do it.”
Gade then decided to get his Ph.D. and then he was able to go back to his alma mater at the United States Military Academy in West Point and be a professor there for six years. Gade said the beauty of that job was he got to teach things that were going to come in handy when they go to Washington such as leadership, ethics, economics and political science.
After 20 years in the Army on active duty, Gade retired as lieutenant colonel.
“But my choice to serve was not complete,” Gade said, who mentioned he got another phone call from the White House. This time from the Trump administration.
Gade was asked if he would serve in the administration as a political appointee, and Gade said that of course he accepted.
“This president deserves to have people around him who are good people, who serve the Constitution, and who are loyal to the Constitution, and that’s what I did,” Gade said as he was met with a big round of applause from the crowd.
Gade then left the Trump administration in 2019 to take a professor position at American University, but once again, his desire to serve was not over.
“When the opportunity to run for office came, I jumped on it, and I thought, you know, this is a chance to serve the Constitution.”
Gade then said this election was about keeping the president’s great economy going, fighting for pro-life values, fighting for religious freedoms, and lots more conservative values. Gade then told the crowd that that the left has gone “completely insane” within the last year and they have chosen to fight now and embrace all the policies that he claims were there the whole time but are now in the open.
One policy he mentioned was defunding the police, which has been a hot topic discussed across the country. For Gade, he believes that policy is a disaster waiting to happen.
“If there is a more absurd, evil public policy idea than defunding the police, I don’t know what it is. There are some that are pretty bad, but that is a bad one,” Gade said.
He had challenged Warner about that topic in a debate they recently had about why he defunded the police by $50 million when he was governor at the time. Warner said he did not support defunding the police at the debate.
Gade also said that the left wants to go “full socialist left” and wants to “centralize power” in D.C.
He mentioned that Virginians have to fight now and can’t take the back seat in this important election. He commented that he has met people on the campaign trail who said they had friends who decided to move from Virginia because they feel “it can’t be won” and relocate to a more conservative state like South Carolina or Tennessee.
“To them I say we fight right now, people, we fight right now, and let’s do it together,” Gade said. “We can win this race. And I honestly and truly believe that when the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia go into the voting booth, whether it’s tomorrow or Nov. 3, when they look at the ballot, they’re going to have a choice. And we need to let them know what their choices are in the Senate race. Their choices are career politician vs. career servant.”
Gade also claimed that the message of voting for a politician or servant has “resonated” throughout the Commonwealth, according to polls done by his campaign. He said the latest polls his campaign has done has shown that Gade has cut the deficit to single digits, with Warner holding a nine-point lead.
He also mentioned that when his campaign polls independents, they usually “come to his side” when they hear about his bio in a 2:1 ratio.
“This is a winnable race y’all,” Gade said. “I can win this race, and I can send Mark Warner packing with your help.”
Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.