Va. governor, congressman: High enthusiasm will take Romney across finish line in Virginia

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Virginia Republicans Rep. Randy Forbes and Gov. Bob McDonnell told The Daily Caller they’re confident their state’s 13 electoral votes will go to Mitt Romney.

“The people are excited everywhere I go,” Forbes told TheDC in a Monday phone interview. “I’m sure there’s a world out there that’s excited for the president. I can tell you, I’ve just never experienced this kind of excitement for one of our candidates.”

In 2008, President Barack Obama flipped Virginia blue for the first time since 1964.

“It’s a close race,” McDonnell cautioned, adding that he thinks Romney “wins for a couple reasons.”

“Number one, he’s spent a significant amount of time and resources here in Virginia, especially in the closing weeks,” McDonnell said. “He and Paul Ryan have been fixtures in Virginia – I think the personal contact matters a lot. Secondly, this is a traditional right-of-center state, and 2008 was a departure from that trend. I think that, overwhelmingly, jobs and the economy and debt and energy are the top issues for Virginians, and defense spending – and those are things that favor Gov. Romney over the record of the president.”

“And, I think, thirdly, there are a couple of things that are very positive for us heading into the home stretch,” McDonnell continued. “One is we have got the best grassroots effort that we have ever had in the state. I think we got beat handily in ’08 by the Obama campaign here. But, now, I’d say it’s even or better – a tremendous plus for the closing stretch. And another thing, the general enthusiasm among our team is palpable, and it’s better.”

“For all those reasons, I think we win,” McDonnell said. “For a president to go into Election Day at 47 or 48 percent, that means he hasn’t closed the deal, and so undecided voters will break for Gov. Romney. I think it’s going to be very close, but turnout is likely going to be the deciding issue. But I do think, by a couple points, Gov. Romney does win Virginia.”

Forbes said he thinks the ground game on both sides has been “very strong,” adding that “Republicans are far more energized and excited about Mitt Romney than Democrats are for the president.”

“That’s the big difference,” he said. “You don’t find a lot of people who are passionate about four more years of Obama. You just find people who are trying to defend and justify what the president has done for the last four years.”

Pointing to the big crowds at Romney events, Forbes said he’s “never seen enthusiasm like this in my career in 20-something years.”

“You don’t get those kinds of crowds when you have people who are just voting against somebody,” he added. “The reason those crowds are growing so enormously is because they’re believing in Mitt Romney and that has been a huge transition that many people I think have missed. I’m seeing it. But, you don’t have to measure it just by those crowds. You can measure it when you go in a Home Depot or a Lowe’s, when you go in a supermarket, and you see the people that are telling you they are just excited about the opportunity to have Mitt Romney as the next president.”

On the key issues facing Virginians – sequestration, energy policy and the economy – Forbes and McDonnell said they agreed Romney has an edge.

Forbes said Virginians “believe that the president has been literally dismantling the greatest military the world has ever known.”

“Virginians believe strongly in that military and believe strongly in that national defense,” Forbes said. “One of the things that we know through all the spin and all the ads that we’ve seen on TV is that had Mitt Romney been president of the United States, sequestration would never have become the law, because he never would have signed it. This president signed it, and this president has put nothing out to change it, and this president has said he’ll veto anything that comes up to change it. The only way Virginians stop sequestration is to elect a new president, and I think that’s what they’re going to do tomorrow.”

McDonnell added that he thinks recent reports of Obama’s plans for anti-coal EPA regulations after the election will “absolutely” factor into Virginians’ voting decisions at the last minute, “especially in Southwest Virginia [where there are coal mines] and in Hampton Roads, where we got the largest coal exporting port in the world.”

“This is a devastating issue for the president – they [the Obama administration] have literally tried to keep their campaign promise to bankrupt the coal industry,” McDonnell said. “To build new plants or to get new permits is getting harder and harder.”

Both McDonnell and Forbes added they think this campaign has shown that Obama can’t live up to his 2008 promises of “hope and change.”

“I think the president came into office with a great opportunity, and he ran a very, very good campaign on ‘hope and change’ in ’08, and it was an uplifting, positive message,” McDonnell said. “But I think the kind of campaign he’s run this year has been really a small-ball election about Romney’s tax returns.”

“I think people are noticing that [Obama’s negative campaigning this time around as opposed to his positive campaigning in 2008],” Forbes added. “I think even people in his own party are noticing that. This has been the most partisan president we’ve had in my lifetime. If he’s re-elected, he will continue this divisive situation of separating and dividing America. That’s the way he has operated ever since he came into office. I just think you’ve seen it in their mannerisms, you’ve seen it in the way they’ve tried to sledge legislation through without getting any kind of cooperation across the aisle.”

Both Obama and Romney have put last-minute emphasis on Virginia – and the latest Real Clear Politics polling average gives Obama less than half a point advantage in the state. A Rasmussen Reports poll released Sunday, however, had Romney up by two points.

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Matthew Boyle