McDonnell Talks Super Tuesday
The Virginia governor discusses the kerfuffle over the ultrasound bill and why he’s supporting Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney and Bob McDonnell in October 2011


GERAGHTY: I can’t help but notice that the timing of the worsened coverage in recent weeks aligns with your new role as a Romney surrogate and your status as a potential running mate on the Republican ticket. How’s life in the fishbowl?

MCDONNELL: A couple of weeks before the discussion of one or two abortion bills came up, you had the Obama administration’s policy regarding religious liberty, and the use of contraception became a very heated national discussion. That was followed by some discussion of social issues by Rick Santorum. So there was already this national buzz about social issues, and then came the coverage of our bill. The press was sort of primed for it.

To some degree, the fact that I’ve been actively supporting Romney for a couple weeks, and I’m chairman of the Republican Governors Association means I’m a natural target for the Democrats. And so even though the bills that they criticized were not part of my legislative package, they found a way to make me the target of anything they found wrong about the bill. It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve been doing this for 21 years. I expect some of that.

It is a little different this time. I’ve not been involved with a presidential campaign to this degree before. In 2008, I was a surrogate for Fred Thompson and chairman of his campaign in Virginia. But that was relatively short-lived, and this one has certainly been higher profile. . . . 

I think a lot of Governor Romney. I think he’s a good, decent person — the right leader at the right time for America. I think what’s wrong in the White House is a lack of positive leadership, blaming everybody else for not getting results — not doing anything about the debt or deficit. No real plan on jobs.

Governor Romney’s résumé is chock full of evidence that he can be a very positive and strong leader to fix these fiscal and economic problems. I consider it a treat. I’ve been to four or five places around the country for Governor Romney, and I’ll continue to campaign for him.

GERAGHTY: Turning to the Virginia primary, Virginians will be seeing a very limited menu of options because of the ballot rules. Some campaigns didn’t submit signatures to qualify for the ballot. Some submitted signatures, but not enough of them checked out with the current voter rolls. What are your thoughts on how that played out?

MCDONNELL: I wish everybody had qualified. I wish we had a robust primary with all four of the candidates on the ballot, so that Governor Romney would win outright with everybody on the ballot. We would have more people come out to the vote and get more names of people who care about Republican primaries.

But yes, I do think the ballot rules are fair. We have a high standard in Virginia. I met it twice. It took some organization, but it wasn’t that hard to do. We have had numerous people — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian — who have made the ballot. And I would say this: If you can’t get organized in Virginia to get 10,000 good signatures to qualify for the ballot, how are you going to run the greatest country on earth? I think the rules are fine. There are some pieces of legislation to tweak some of the requirements, but I think that the standards will remain high. I’m just disappointed the other candidates didn’t qualify.


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