Potential Veep Pick McDonnell: Romney Will Win Because "People Are Not Gonna Vote on Who They Like"
After an initial flare several months ago, talk of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney settled into warm coals mode as media speculated about other candidates, both more and less exciting than the man known to women's health advocates as the transvaginal governor.
But a peculiar situation has arisen in the Old Dominion that has reignited talk of McDonnell's potential in the number-two slot.
In the 2012 election, Virginia has emerged as the new must-win state for a presidential candidate, said to be what Ohio was in 2004, or Florida was thought to be in 2000, before we all realized the Supreme Court could appoint presidents.
Right now, if you examine the presidential contest as one between the two major-party candidates, it's a dead heat between Obama and Romney. But throw into the mix third-party candidate Virgil Goode, a former Virginia congressman, and Romney's got a major problem.
Goode, once a Republican, is running on the ticket of the Constitution Party, the Christian Reconstructionist outfit founded by Howard Phillips. In Virginia, as of mid-July, Goode was polling at 9 percent in a PPP survey of the presidential race. Among hard-core, right-wing evangelicals, Romney's Mormonism is an issue -- not to mention the general acknowledgement on the right that he is not a "true conservative." For a right-wing, Jesus-lovin', flag-wavin' Virginian, a vote for Goode could register as the perfect protest against what's described as the Republican Party establishment.
But a Romney-McDonnell ticket could go a long way to mitigating that dynamic in Virginia. McDonnell's got the cred with the religious right, plus he's handsome and charming. But if McDonnell wants that running-mate spot, he may need to learn how to talk about the guy at the top of the ticket -- you know, the one who likes to fire people.
While covering last weekend's Americans For Prosperity Foundation conference of Tea Partiers, I caught up with McDonnell just after he delivered a speech to the foot soldiers of the right.
From my report, published today on AlterNet (emphasis added):
When I asked if Goode's candidacy could harm Romney, McDonnell replied: "I'm sensing that the momentum is so clearly on the side of Mitt Romney that I don't think a few votes there will make a difference. Because this is a serious election. It's a serious time for our country. People are not gonna vote on who they like, or who sounds the best. But they're gonna vote on who they really believe can get results, to get the greatest country on earth out of debt and back to work -- that's the only thing that matters."When asked if he would accept the vice presidential nomination if it was offered, McDonnell laughed, saying, "I can't answer that until I'm asked, so you'll have to talk with Mitt."I pressed him a bit more: Had he been vetted?"I'm not going to talk about that," McDonnell said. "They're goin' through the whole process right now, and it looks like the governor will have some announcements soon, and I'll wait to hear, too."