TAMPA, Fla. — Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell told The Daily Caller he thinks President Barack Obama‘s re-election campaign is trying to use things like the recent national focus on abortion issues to distract from his “failed” record as president.
“If you’ve got a horrible record on jobs and the economy and on debt and deficit, and you have no energy plan, then of course, you’re going to change the subject,” McDonnell said in a phone interview. “That’s why you see so much attention from the Obama campaign on Romney’s tax returns, on Bain Capital, on social issues. It’s a very small-ball campaign — a campaign of division and fear — very different than the hope and change that you saw four years ago, which was uplifting and positive.”
“It’s because, if the election gets to be solely about jobs and the economy, debt, deficit and energy, Obama loses big because he has not produced on those policies,” he continued. “He’s failed and everybody knows it. He’s trying to make it about personality and small-ball issues.”
Social issues — especially abortion — have peaked as an issue in the national political discourse in the last week after Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin, the state’s GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, used the phrase “legitimate rape” when arguing against abortion on local television.
The Obama campaign sent out a fundraising appeal from Democratic strategist Donna Brazile Monday seeking to tie Akin to Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
McDonnell said this election isn’t about those social issues — it’s really about the economy — even though Democrats, he said, will use that type of thing to distract voters.
“The top line issue is which candidate has got the best ideas to get the greatest country on earth out of debt and back to work,” McDonnell said. “That’s what this campaign is all about. And, it’s the vision and plans of Mitt Romney versus the record of Barack Obama.”
“No matter how you slice the cake or how you wordsmith it on the left, when you look at 42 months in a row with over 8 percent unemployment rate, 23 million Americans either unemployed or underemployed, and you look at a $16 trillion debt — the highest in American history — and that this president has added $5 trillion to — that is just an indefensible record,” the Virginia governor charged. “The president has tried his policies, and they haven’t worked. It’s time for a change, and Mitt Romney is that change.”
McDonnell, the chairman of the national Republican Governors Association, also told TheDC he thinks GOP governors’ nationwide will play a “huge” role in the upcoming election.
“That’s going to be part of my speech [at the Republican National Convention] tomorrow night,” he said. “That is, Republican governors are doing something different than Democratic governors. We’re getting results on debt, on jobs, on energy — and doing much better than Democratic governors. So, if you like what we’re doing now, then you’ll really like what Mitt Romney will do in the White House. He’s a former governor, he’s all about balancing budgets without raising taxes and creating jobs. He’s done it in the public and private sector. And, he’s not going to make excuses and blame other people. Governors can’t do that. The buck stops at your desk. That’s why he’ll be a much more effective leader than President Obama.”
McDonnell said one “very good case study” of how liberal policies don’t work and how conservative ones do is the dichotomy between his state and Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Maryland.
“We’re at a 5.9 percent unemployment rate [in Virginia],” McDonnell said. “Maryland is at 7 [percent unemployment]. They’re having to increase taxes, and increasing gambling, they’re doing all kinds of things to feed the spending machine. We’ve been reforming government and cutting spending and so we’ve had $1.4 billion in surpluses over the past three years. It’s a good contrast, and I think it’s a good contrast for what the differences are in an Obama White House versus a Romney White House.”
Above all, though, McDonnell said “the bottom line is: fiscal conservative principles work.”
“At the end of the day, that’s what this election is about,” McDonnell added. “It’s not about personalities, it’s not about who you like the best. It’s about results. Right now, we’ve got a lot of rhetoric in D.C. but no real action. Mitt Romney’s a business guy and he’s all about getting results — and that’s what we need right now.”
McDonnell also expects Romney to win in his Virginia — a major swing state in this election.
“He’s making great progress [in Virginia],” McDonnell said of Romney. “We were down 8 points just about four or five months ago. Now, it’s a dead heat. Actually, a poll or two had him [Romney] up by one. The trend is very good, the enthusiasm gap is on the Republican side unlike four years ago when it was on the Democrats’ side. We’ve got the best grassroots effort that I’ve seen in 21 years in office in terms of the number of phone calls, door-knocks, offices. I think if these trends continue, we’ll win Virginia.”