Former Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode won't be the next president of the United States, but that doesn't stop him from campaigning for it.
Goode, who represented Virginia in Congress as a Democrat, an independent and as a Republican before losing his seat in 2008, is the Constitution Party presidential nominee. He is running to the right of the GOP and is on the ballot in Virginia and 28 other states.
Republicans fear that will hurt Republican Mitt Romney's chances of carrying Virginia and, with it, the presidency.
A familiar figure in rural central Virginia, Goode could draw tens of thousands of votes. Should they come from conservatives, he could be the difference in a close race and hand Virginia's 13 electoral votes to Democrat Barack Obama for a second time.
Goode, who lives in Rocky Mount, is a celebrity of sorts in Southwest Virginia.
“We think of him as a family. Everybody loves Virgil,” Sally Foster of Sally's Restaurant said.
Jewell Hunt of J&J Fashions said: “Character, impeccable. You will not find a better person than Virgil Goode.”
Virgil Goode could be the Ralph Nader of 2012 - a spoiler taking votes from both presidential candidates but potentially hurting Mitt Romney more, in a battleground state like Virginia.
Goode is on the ballot in about 30 states. He’s a write-in on others.
Goode is raising pennies compared to the millions upon millions raked in by the two other candidates.
“No donation over $200 and none from political action committees,” Goode said.
But can the 65-year-old win?
“You do realize there is no way you can win,” someone told Goode. He replied, “No, I won't say that 100 percent. I know the climb is steep .”