McDonnell accepts Republican nomination for Governor
Former Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell is now the official nominee of the Republican Party. McDonnell accepted the nomination this morning in front of an estimated 10,000 Republicans at the party’s state convention at the Richmond Coliseum. (Thanks to WDBJ senior reporter Joe Dashiell for the use of his photo)
Moments after McDonnell spoke, I had the chance to sit down with him, one on one, to discuss the race for the governor’s mansion and how he plans to respond to whichever candidate emerges from the Democratic side.
As McDonnell was giving his speech, Virginia Democrats were sending out responses to some of his claims. In particular, they criticized a section of the speech where McDonnell defined the Republican party as the party of “yes” and his Democratic counterparts as the party of “NO”. The Democrats pointed to the candidate’s stance on extending unemployment benefits, the smoking ban and President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. Here is how McDonnell responded to that charge:
“For 18 years I have been in the General Assembly and I have seen the incredible success we have made with things like welfare reform and the abolition of parole, drunk driving reform, higher standards of accountability and education and funding key priorities and I have led the way on any of number of them. I mean 92 out of my 105 legislative proposals in the General Assembly actually passed when I was attorney general, bipartisan support because they were good ideas.”
(more from my interview with McDonnell ((including VIDEO)) and what his opponents had to say after the jump..)
He went on to say that his campaign is positive and about ideas and the Democrats, before they even pick a candidate, have already gone negative.
“The other side is just launching negative, misleading attacks. I think we are the positive, energetic party of ideas and that is what I am going to be talking about for the next four-and-half months.”
Video from the exchange is below-
I also asked him about Democratic attacks that he is attempting to define himself as a moderate, when (according to Democrats) his record is ultra-conservative. McDonnell did not shy away from the conservative label, but instead called himself a “common-sense” conservative willing to reach out to both sides.
Finally, I asked him about the comments that former Governor Doug Wilder made this week that if Terry McAuliffe were to emerge on the Democratic side that you would soon see a “Democrats for McDonnell” group form. Here is what the new Republican nominee thinks about the potential support from a former Democratic governor:
“Governor Wilder I think, being in public service for the 35 years, he appreciates people who get results and who are straight shooters. I don’t know if it is possible or not, we did have lunch recently. I have respect for what he has accomplished over his historic career. And I am asking a lot of independents and Democrats to support me. And because of my support for free enterprise and reducing the reach of government into private lives, I think that a lot of people will come my way. I would be honored to have his support, as well as the support of any Democrats and independents that would want to come my way. It would be terrific.”
More from my discussion with him about Governor Wilder, in my next post.
Below find the full statements from Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds on McDonnell’s nomination.
McAuliffe Statement on the Nomination of Bob McDonnell
Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe this morning released the following statement on the official nomination of Bob McDonnell as the Republican candidate for governor:
“I want to congratulate Bob McDonnell on formally becoming the Republican nominee today. If I have the honor of becoming the Democratic nominee, I look forward to talking about the differences in our records – I am the only candidate for governor with experience creating thousands of jobs, the only one who hasn’t been mired in the partisan bickering in Richmond, and the only one who will bring the same executive style leadership that Governors Warner and Kaine brought to the office.
“I’m proud of my experience and my record, but this weekend, Bob McDonnell, surrounded by Mitt Romney, Sean Hannity, and other Republicans has tried to reinvent his. They’ve all tried to hide his long divisive ideological record, and portray him as someone who now is a moderate.
“What they didn’t tell Virginians is that Bob McDonnell has a partisan, right wing agenda. Whether it was his vote against Mark Warner’s budget reform, his efforts to stymie Tim Kaine’s transportation reform, or his opposition to accepting $125 million of Virginians’ federal tax dollars that would have helped thousands of Virginia families, Bob McDonnell has shown that he is more interested in playing partisan political games than getting things done for Virginia.
“In the fall there is a clear choice: a governor who is in line with the progressive agendas of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Or someone who will turn back the gains made over the past eight years and take Virginia back to the Gilmore era.
“This election is too important. We have to think about what direction we want our commonwealth to take. President Obama has laid out a bold and progressive agenda for a brighter tomorrow, and we have to give him a partner in Virginia.”
CREIGH DEEDS’ STATEMENT ON BOB MCDONNELL’S NOMINATION
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Today, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds released the following statement after Bob McDonnell formally accepted the Republican gubernatorial nomination at the Virginia Republican State Convention in Richmond:
“Middle-class families don’t stand a chance with Bob McDonnell in the Governor’s mansion. Bob said no to helping laid-off Virginians get back on their feet. He said no to benefits for laid-off textile workers in Southside Virginia. And for the last eight years, Bob has said no to the progress we have made under Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.”
“And now, Bob McDonnell is trying to use energy politics to paint himself as a moderate. But Virginia needs a leader who will do more than just pay lip service to new sources of energy. I’m proud to have partnered with Tim Kaine earlier this year to create green jobs and make Virginia the leader in alternative and renewable energy. As Governor, I will make important investments in new sources of energy to create new jobs and build Virginia’s next economy.”
“We need a nominee who can go toe-to-toe with Bob McDonnell in every corner of Virginia. I’m the only Democrat in this race who can build the coalition of Democrats, Independents, and even some Republicans that helped Mark Warner and Barack Obama win statewide. Larry Sabato said that I would make it ‘nearly impossible’ for Bob McDonnell to win in November and The Washington Post said that I ‘would make the best Governor in the Warner-Kaine tradition.’ No Democrat is better prepared to lead Virginia forward.”