Democrats demand McDonnell share plans for national office
It is a typical argument waged by the opposite party directed at whomever inhabits the Governor’s mansion. As soon as Governor Tim Kaine became the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Republicans regularly hammered his travel plans. They accused him of being more concerned about national politics than local governance.
Now it’s Bob McDonnell‘s turn. The Republican has slowly crept into the national picture as a potential candidate for national office. He recently was elected Vice-Chair of the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) and made a number of campaign/fund-raising stops for GOP candidates across the country. The speculation about McDonnell’s ambition only heated up with a story from The Hill that detailed his efforts to build a national political network.
With McDonnell’s star rising, Virginia Democrats have found an opportunity to criticize his motives. In a statement, outgoing party chairman Dickie Cranwell demanded that the Governor reveal if he does indeed plan to run for national office and as a result, not finish his term as Virginia’s chief executive.
“If Bob McDonnell intends on serving his full-term, he should categorically declare today that he will not accept any nomination or consideration for any office that would require him to resign as Governor before his term expires in 2014,” said Cranwell.
For his part, McDonnell has pledged many, many times that he intends to serve his entire term. Going back to the campaign for Governor, the then candidate told me in a live interview that he was only interested in the office he was seeking.
“I love this state we have great opportunities ahead for the state to create more opportunity and prosperity for our citizens,” said McDonnell in October of 2009. “In so many ways, I am fully committed to four years as Virginia’s governor.”
Of course pledges like these are often looked at by political watchers with a degree of skepticism. As McDonnell’s national profile grows, so does the speculation that a spot on the 2012 ticket will be too tough to turn down. Running as Vice-President would be much easier than running for President for the Governor. VP candidates only really run for office for about 2 months and he could easily bat down calls for him to resign for that short of a national campaign. If he wins, he is the Vice-President. The idea that he pledged to serve for a full four years would be long forgotten. If he loses, he is still Governor for another year.
The idea accepting an offer to run for Vice-President is something McDonnell himself won’t completely rule out. In an interview on WTOP radio he said, “I don’t have any plans for higher office at this point,” he said. ” So, my plan is to serve four years in Virginia and be governor.”
Today his spokesman Tucker Martin did the job for him, basically guaranteeing that McDonnell will be Governor until 2014.
“Yawn,” he wrote me in an e-mail response to the DPVA press release. “There are two things that you can count on from now until January 2014: Bob McDonnell serving as Governor and the Democratic Party of Virginia wasting everyone’s time with press releases like this one.”
We shall see if that does enough bat down the speculation.