McDonnell’s three big issues
Former Attorney General Bob McDonnell, the presumptive nominee for the Republican nomination for Governor held a rousing rally in Henrico on Saturday. The rally was part of a series of event designed to formally kickoff his campaign for the Commonwealth’s top office.
McDonnell was joined at the event by all three candidates for the Republican nomination for Attorney General and his running mate and the current incumbent Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. I wasn’t at the event but watched the tape back after our photographer Richard Garner returned and wanted to share a few key moments which I think define the McDonnell campaign.
McDonnell clearly needs to separate himself from the Republican brand. If this event is any indication of how he plans to do that, it will come on the backs of three populist issues, which he believes conservatives have the winning argument: taxes, energy and the economy, most specifically job creation.
A brief analysis of the McDonnell plan and then video examples from Saturday’s event are after the jump..
Every candidate running for any office in the country is running on the economy. Jobs and job creation is a no brainer. The McDonnell faithful were waving banners today that said “Bob’s 4 Jobs!”. McDonnell is sticking to traditional republican standards when it comes to job creation and that means he wants government to get out of the way of business development, especially small business development. But I thought it was interesting how he used part of his rally to reach out to people in way to show he understood what they were going through. Here is what he said and then the video will follow:
“As your next Governor, I will make the top priority bringing jobs and opportunity to every region of Virginia.
To every Virginian who has lost their job
To every small business owner trying to make payroll
To every retiree afraid to look at their retirement account
To every homeowner struggling to make the next mortgage payment
To every parent writing that next tuition check
This campaign is for you. This campaign is about you!”
The debate over energy can be a dicey one, but McDonnell has worked hard to own the issue by using an “all of the above” strategy. While his Democratic opponents need to be careful to not alienate their loyal environmental supporters who are opposed to things like drilling offshore and the further development of coal plants, McDonnell has embraced those ideas. In front of Republican crowds, McDonnell gets big cheers when he pushes drilling offshore, but today he made sure to sprinkle in “green” energy development and even talked about ways to keep the environment clean.
In this clip, McDonnell hits home the idea of going after every possible option when it comes to energy development and then hits some Republican red meat by attacking the union-friendly “card-check” legislation.
“Let’s put ideology aside, and be comprehensive when it comes to our energy future – Yes, we must develop new technologies for wind, solar, biomass, and other renewables. But we also need oil and natural gas, and to speed up the approval and permitting process for nuclear and clean-coal plants. I will be a Governor who develops all of Virginia’s energy resources to make life better for all of our citizens.
“We will make it easier for entrepreneurs to protect our environment, while creating good jobs. We will establish “Green JOBZ” tax free zones to incentivize renewable energy technologies.
“To ensure that new jobs continue to come to Virginia we must defend our pro-free enterprise, Right to Work Law, the cornerstone of our economic prosperity. But Right to Work is under attack in Congress with the job-killing Card Check legislation pushed by big national unions.
“The job of the Governor is to put the people of Virginia and their job opportunities first. All three of my opponents recently stood in union picket lines in Northern Virginia and now will not oppose the job killing card check bill!
“I will defend our Right to Work law; oppose Card Check and fight to keep Virginia the best place in America to do business! We can’t let big national unions turn Virginia into southern Michigan!”
There is not one single issue that unifies Republicans more than taxes. The issue was perfected by Ronald Reagan but the GOP has lost ground because Democrats have successfully convinced Americans that wealthy people have not paid their fair share. McDonnell is attempting to re-introduce the issue by making it one that average people can connect to. In this clip he discusses the ratio of auditors to appeals specialists in the Virginia Tax Department.
“Right now we have nearly 1000 people dedicated to collecting your taxes. We have one person dedicated to making sure you don’t get overcharged……that’s a ratio that will change when I’m governor!”
Will it work? I am sure McDonnell was able to quite a bit of press on Saturday with these well staged events, but from here until June, the story will be about the Democrats and their primary. While McDonnell is glad he doesn’t have to worry about the nomination I wonder how concerned he is that voters might forget about him, and these important points he is trying to drive home, over the next couple of months.