McDonnell rejects birth controversy, non-commital on Palin
Republican candidate for Governor Bob McDonnell spent 30 minutes today answering questions submitted by readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. NBC12 was granted access to the exclusive conversation that was streamed live on their web site.
You can watch a replay of the livechat by clicking here.
After the lively discussion, Times-Dispatch reporter Tyler Whitley who moderated the discussion joined me for a recap on NBC12 First at Four. (Our conversation is posted after the jump)
The Times-Dispatch readers forced McDonnell to face a number of issues in the race for Governor head on. The first, and perhaps most controversial, is the ongoing fight over the place of President Barack Obama‘s birth. While the White House, the State of Hawaii and several independent fact checking agencies have confirmed that the President was indeed a natural born citizen, the lack of some specific documentation has allowed rumors and doubt about Mr. Obama’s place of birth to flood the media.
The controversy is one that is being chiefly spread, not surprisingly, among the President’s harshest opponents. Most of them Republican. Of course if it was conclusively discovered that the President was not born in the United States, than he would not be eligible to hold the office. The Constitution specifically states that the President must be a natural born U.S. Citizen.
This has led to some problems for Bob McDonnell because of new polling information that shows that as much as 36% of Virginia voters who are supporting the Republican, do not believe that the President was born in the United States. But while Bob McDonnell may have a significant number of supporters who hold that belief, the candidate himself does not. Here is the exchange with Whitley:
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McDonnell, who is generally not afraid to wade deep into most issues did not seem interested in getting to involved with this controversy. For the record he said “President Obama is a citizen and he is the President of the United States.”
What he didn’t say is that Mr. Obama was “born” in the United States, which is of course, the rub of the whole issue. His campaign staff cleared up for me later that McDonnell does indeed believe that Barack Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States.
It is also worth noting that the question was submitted by Amy Gardner of the Washington-Post, who blogged about this issue as well.
The birther controversy was only a very small part of the thirty minute discussion. McDonnell and Whitley also tackled gun rights, transportation and of course Sarah Palin. The lightning rod former Governor of Alaska has said that stepped down from her post will give her the chance to travel the country in support of candidates who share her ideals. That has led to speculation that Ms. Palin could come to Virginia on McDonnell’s behalf. The former Attorney General seemed open to the idea.
Finally the most significant discussion of the afternoon centered on the biggest single policy issue of the campaign, transportation. McDonnell who has routinely touted his plan and criticized Creigh Deeds for his lack of a plan, today answered charges that his plan is just a series of old, tired ideas that have already been rejected.
After the livechat, Tyler Whitley joined me on the set of NBC12 First at Four to discuss the interview and what it means for the rest of the campaign.
Sen. Creigh Deeds, McDonnell’s Democratic opponent will be up next. He will answer Times-Dispatch reader questions on August 12th. You can submit your questions by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will once again have coverage of the livechat here and will once again have a representive from the Times-Dispatch as a guest on NBC12 First at Four.