FAIRFAX, Va. - At a GOP headquarters office where volunteers were working the phones to get out the vote, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell gushed over presidential candidate Mitt Romney, showering him with compliments but stopping short of an official endorsement.
“I’m kind of partial. I think the former governor ought to be the next president of the United states,” said McDonnell as he introduced Romney to a room packed with volunteers.
After a brief tour of the phone bank operation – and a quick voicemail made by Romney left on a voter’s answering machine – McDonnell continued to express his admiration for Romney outside the headquarters.
“Gov. Romney gets it when it comes to free enterprise,” said McDonnell. “He has a marvelous record of achievement at Bain Capital creating wealth and jobs and opportunity for people, a great record of achievement in Massachusetts where you actually have to balance the budget and get things done on time…That’s the kind of leadership you’ve seen with Gov. Mitt Romney and his very specific plans to get America back on track.”
Asked by the press whether he expected an endorsement from McDonnell, Romney said, “There are no endorsements today, although those are always welcome.”
He later added that he hasn’t just asked McDonnell for an endorsement, but has “asked every governor.”
Romney rejected speculation that McDonnell might be on the short list for his running mate, should he win the nomination.
“He’s a terrific guy doing a great job here in the state of Virginia. It would be presumptuous for anyone in my position so far from the nomination to start thinking about who would be vice president,” said Romney.
Romney also fielded questions about who he believes is his biggest threat, to which he answered, “President Obama.”
“And I plan on beating him soon,” said Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor was asked for an opinion on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s flat tax proposal, but avoided commented directly on Perry’s plan, instead asserting that he prefers his own plan.
“I like my tax plan better,” said Romney. As you might not be surprised to hear.”
Romney also clarified his stance on the controversial statewide ballot initiatives in Ohio, where just on Tuesday at a campaign stop outside of Cincinnati he said he was unfamiliar with and did not have an opinion on. Today, however, Romney apologized for any confusion and said that he does, in fact, support Issue 2, which would curb collective bargaining rights.
Update: Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman adds, ”The Governor thinks very highly of Governor Romney and the campaign he is running. He does believe a current or former governor would make the best next President of the United States. However, he will not make an endorsement in the race, if he does at all, until after Virginia’s mid-term legislative elections in November.”