ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
The Republican candidate for governor of Virginia indicated that he remains open to having Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, campaign for him — but said no plans for such an event are in the works. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., said on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today that he doesn’t know yet whether Palin will campaign on his behalf in Virginia — reiterating his official campaign stance. “I don’t know how this recent announcement — which I still don’t fully understand, I only know what I’ve read in the media — how that fully plays out, and whether she’s going to just prefer a private life or whether she still wants to stay actively involved,” McDonnell said. “I think she was — she added a lot of enthusiasm to the Republican ticket with John McCain last year. I think she’ll stay a voice in national politics to some degree. But we’re welcoming people from around the country that want to help us raise money and help us campaign on reform minded ideas to come to Virginia, Republicans and Democrats.” Asked whether he’d welcome her presence on the trail, McDonnell responded: “I think she’d be a good spokesman. She’s a successful governor in Alaska. She’s a popular governor in Alaska. Got a lot of things done on taxes and regulations, and ethics. And those are some of the things that I’m interested in getting done here in Virginia.” McDonnell, a former attorney general, was also a bit more definitive than he’s been in the past in ruling out support for tax hikes. He’s come under fire of late for refusing to sign a no-new-taxes pledge — a pledge he still won’t sign, he said. “I just haven’t signed any pledges because I’ve been in office for 18 years and I’m going to tell people exactly what I think, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.”I’m not going to raise taxes. The last couple Democratic governors said that and then ushered in the largest tax increases in Virginia history. I believe that you create prosperity and opportunity for your citizens by having free markets and the free enterprise system do what they do best, and that is to create dreams and opportunities for people through keeping taxes, regulation, litigation low, strong right-to-work laws. That allows the private sector to thrive. That’s what’s been successful in Virginia. I will keep that going and have some bigger and more innovative ideas on how to expand that in Virginia. But raising taxes, what is the gas tax, or the income tax, or the sales tax in this economy, would be very poor economic policy. So I will not raise taxes.”McDonnell is running against Democrat Creigh Deeds in this year’s gubernatorial race, one of only two such races in the nation in 2009. (We’ve asked Deeds to be on the program as well, and are working with his campaign to arrange an appearance.)One recent poll showed McDonnell holding a narrow 49-43 lead over Deeds, whom McDonnell edged out in the 2005 attorney general’s contest. The Virginia race is being cast as an opportunity for the Republican Party to get back on track. Asked whether he felt any pressure, given the national implications and expectations, McDonnell said: “Well, a little bit. But I mean I’ll leave that conjecture up to the national pundits.”"I think it’s a purple state,” McDonnell said of Virginia. “It’s a competitive state. What people forget is from Reconstruction until 1999, it was a Democratic state. You only had a handful of Republican governors; you never had a Republican majority in the legislature. It’s only been the last 10 years when Republicans have had a say in state politics, and in the last couple cycles of course things have gotten tougher for Republicans.” Watch the full interview with Bob McDonnell HERE.
Also today, we chatted with Republican strategist Carl Forti about Palin, Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and the state of the Republican Party six months into 2009.He offered a prescription that not many in the party are willing to make publicly: “I’m one of those who believe that saying ‘no’ is enough. And that Republicans should be the ‘Party of No’ and oppose everything that President Barack Obama is doing. And that’s enough. . . . We’re allowed to say, ‘no.’ And look, if you look at it, Democrats successfully did that in 2006.”Click HERE to see the full interview with Carl Forti.