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Interview with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

Interview with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

By John King, USA - March 20, 2012

KING: Big states -- big stakes today in Illinois for Mitt Romney. And if he can pull off a win, you'll likely see him talking more about President Obama and looking ahead to the general election.

But some signs of trouble in one of the big battleground states. That would be the state of Virginia.

President Obama -- look here -- beats Romney there in a hypothetical match-up by eight points. In fact, the president beats all four of the Republican contenders.

And is the Romney campaign concerned?

Let's turn to the governor's biggest surrogate, the Virginia Republican governor, Bob McDonnell.

Governor, I want to get into the politics in a moment.

But you just heard Brianna Keilar at the White House. A lot of Republicans, including Republican governors, have said, hey, Mr. President, approve the entire Keystone Pipeline.

Is approving the southern half of it, is that progress?

GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Well, it's progress, but it's -- it's not a coherent energy strategy. John, I can tell you, from being our state produces a lot of coal and natural gas and nuclear, we've had nothing but three years of -- of tough regulations coming out of the EPA and this Obama administration.

He turned it down once. The Senate, under Harry Reid's leadership, turned down the Keystone Pipeline. And now, you know, eight months before an election, we got a little bit of progress.

So, yes, that's great, that they're going to expedite that. But this is oil from Canada that will help us and reduce our reliance on foreign sources of oil. We ought to do the whole thing if we're really serious about reducing gas prices.

KING: Well, we'll ask about the northern half, trust me, Governor, if we get a question to the president and his team.

I want to move on.

You just...

MCDONNELL: Good.

KING: -- we just showed the poll up there. We just showed the poll up there saying President Obama, one of his big accomplishments in 2008 was winning Virginia. It was -- it was one of nine red states he turned blue.

We just showed the poll showing he would carry the state if the election were today. They also asked the question, well, what if the Republicans and Governor Romney added Bob McDonnell to the ticket?

Look at this. Obama by 50, Romney-McDonnell, 43 percent. So the numbers don't change much. Does that bother you, sir?

MCDONNELL: No. Nobody cares about V.P. right now. In fact, we're just still trying -- we've got four candidates. We're trying to find a nominee, John. So nobody's paying any attention to that yet.

And guess what?

The election is not held today.

KING: Right.

MCDONNELL: It's going to be held in eight months. And I think once we go head-to-head and it's Romney against Obama, I think those numbers change.

John, there's been other polls. Look, I would rather be up than down right now, in all honesty, absolutely, in a swing state like Virginia. But this -- this is going to change quite a bit as we get -- as we actually get the head-to-head match-up.

KING: I was down to see you not that long ago and we had the conversation then...

MCDONNELL: Yes.

KING: -- about why -- why can't Governor Romney close the deal here?

Here we are, oh, a month, six weeks later, and I ask the question, why can't Governor Romney seal the deal here?

You know, Santorum wins in Mississippi and Alabama, people say wow!

Then Romney wins in Puerto Rico, has a chance to make a statement in Illinois tonight.

If the governor wins in Illinois tonight, what does he have to do, what does he have to do to convince people this is over?

Or are we going to June?

MCDONNELL: Well, he's going to get 1,044 votes, John. That's what he's got to do. There's four talented people in this race. They all want to win. Nobody is giving up.

But Mitt Romney has got twice as many delegates as any other candidate. He's won 18 states and territories. He's won all over the country. He's the only candidate that's got a message, that's got the money and has got an organization, permanently in every state. He's getting more and more endorsements from key people, conservatives, Independents, moderates.

I think he's going to be the nominee. And I think it will be by June. So, of course there's a spirited contest right now. President Obama and Hillary Clinton were in it until June 7, 2008.

So I'm not really worried about it. I would rather be done now, John, but it's got a ways to go, I still think. And I think he will be the nominee sooner rather than later.

KING: Governor Romney tries to keep most of the focus on the economy as he campaigns, but as you know, if you have a town hall...

MCDONNELL: Yes.

KING: -- voters can ask whatever is on their mind.

I want you to listen here.

MCDONNELL: Right.

KING: A couple of women had some questions for Governor Romney last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what made me happy?

Free birth control.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're looking for free stuff you don't have to pay for, vote for the other guy. That's what he's all about, OK?

That's not...

(BOOS)

ROMNEY: -- that's not what I'm about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The specifics are different in different conversations, whether it's about whether contraception should be covered in a health care plan.

Governor, you've gone through this with the personhood debate and the ultrasound bill in the state of Virginia. If you look at your Facebook page right now, there's a feisty conversation going on there.

In terms of, the Democrats are calling this a war on women.

Do Republicans need to be -- is it more careful in their language?

What is it?

MCDONNELL: Well, on that dialogue that I just heard, I don't think this is the heart and soul of this campaign.

Are we a nation of guarantees or are we a nation of opportunities to achieve the American dream?

That is a fundamental difference between what this president has been selling and I think what Mitt Romney is going to talk about.

And, secondly, I would say this -- this war on women argument is -- is very unfortunate. It's false and it's -- it's been the political theater for the Democrats for a couple of months. John, the war I'm worried about is the war on the taxpayer that we've seen coming out of the White House -- more taxes, more regulation, more class warfare, more separating and dividing people and more unwillingness to be able to control spending so that we can get our -- our nation out of this horrific debt.

Listen, if I had Obama's record on jobs, on spending, on debt and deficit, on energy, I would want to talk about something else, too.

And, John, that's really what's going on. And it's just very unfortunate that this politics of division, separating men from women, rich from the middle class, continues to be the theme of this campaign. It's just not right.

KING: Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia.

Sir, appreciate your time tonight.

We'll stay in touch as the campaign goes down the road a bit.

MCDONNELL: OK, John.

KING: Good to see you, sir.

MCDONNELL: Appreciate being on with you.

Thank you.

KING: Thank you. 

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