McDonnell Eager for Romney VP Consideration?

McDonnell Eager for Romney VP Consideration?

By Scott Conroy - January 20, 2012

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been Mitt Romney's most visible and active surrogate here leading up to Saturday's primary, but her answer to "the question" has been an emphatic and consistent denial.

"I would say no," Haley told this week when asked if she would accept the vice-presidential slot on a Romney-led ticket, were it offered to her. "I would say no to a Cabinet position. I would say no to vice president. I’m doing this so I can have a partner in the White House, so I can be a good governor in South Carolina.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, on the other hand, sounded an entirely different note on his first day as a Romney booster.

Asked in a brief interview with RCP whether he would be Romney’s running mate in the fall, McDonnell did not make much of an attempt to be coy.

“You have to ask him,” McDonnell said, motioning toward the candidate, who had just finished speaking to a crowd of a couple hundred here.

The first-term governor and chairman of the Republican Governors Association paused for a moment before adding the requisite reply.

“I’ve got the job held by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry -- there’s not a better job in America,” he said.

McDonnell is barred from serving consecutive terms as governor under Virginia law and will be out of a job in 2014 if he stays in his current position.

Pressed on his interest level in pursuing the VP slot, McDonnell replied, “We’ll see.”

McDonnell said that he had been mulling his endorsement for months and came to the conclusion that this was the right time to get behind the former Massachusetts governor.

“I’d been leaning toward Mitt for a while, but it was just in the last couple of weeks that it came together to think that Mitt was the guy I was going to endorse,” he said. “And this seemed to be the right time. First Southern primary. I’m a Southern state governor. I thought I could help.”

McDonnell said that he had not considered holding his endorsement until just before Virginia’s March 6 primary because Romney, in his view, will have the nomination sewn up by then.

A federal judge ruled last week that only Romney’s and Ron Paul’s names will appear on the Virginia ballot after the other GOP candidates failed to meet the state’s stringent signature requirements.

McDonnell projected optimism about Romney’s South Carolina prospects but added that the national front-runner would be in fine shape whether or not he comes out on top here.

“He’s going to win,” McDonnell said of Romney’s chances at the nomination. “The only question is when.” 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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