VA Governor McDonnell Ad Buy Raises Questions About Vice Presidential Hopes

(Image Credit: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo)

A group supporting Virginia's Republican Governor Bob McDonnell has  made an ad buy for the term-limited governor, who cannot run for re-election but is often cited as a potential vice presidential pick.

Opportunity Virginia PAC, a political action committee set up to support the governor, announced a new television ad. The group has been mute on the details of the buy, but a source tells ABC News it cost roughly $376,000.

The purpose of the buy, which sources say will run in the Washington, D.C., media market, as well as in the Virginia cities Roanoke, Richmond, Norfolk and Charlottesville, is explained by the group as a chance to celebrate Virginia's economic recovery.

"Following the news that Virginia's unemployment rate has plunged 23 percent since January 2010, down to 5.6 percent in March 2012, Governor Bob McDonnell's Opportunity Virginia PAC is releasing a new television ad celebrating the Virginia economic recovery, and the private sector job-creators driving it," read a statement put out today by Opportunity Virginia.

The buy is suspicious however, because Virginia law prohibits governors from seeking two consecutive terms. McDonnell, who was elected in 2009, will not be allowed to run again when his term ends in 2013.

There are no legislative items coming up that the Republican party of Virginia is gearing up to fight, the state Party tells ABC News. Republicans in the state legislature passed a state budget last week, after a standoff with Democrats in the state Senate.

So if the governor isn't gearing up for another state run, or a big in state fight, why buy the ad?

McDonnell is often cited as a potential vice presidential pick. He's been on the Romney train since early in the primary season, endorsing the presumptive GOP nominee in January, and campaigning for him ahead of the South Carolina primary.

While McDonnell has a high approval rating - a Quinnipiac poll conducted in March placed his approval rating at 53 percent - his popularity has dropped following the passage of a controversial law earlier this month that requires women to get an ultrasound before they can have an abortion. In February the governor's approval rating was 58 percent, according to an earlier Quinnipiac poll.

The same Quinnipiac poll found that the law is unpopular: 52 percent of Virginia voters disagree with it, while 41 percent agree.

So perhaps, with this in mind, some positive reinforcement might be just what the doctor ordered for an image boost ahead of the VP vetting process.

Unlike many of the other potential picks often cited for the job, McDonnell has not vehemently denied any interest in being asked to join the Republican ticket.

"I'm not looking for it. I'm not asking for it. I've got a great job, as you know, but I think any public servant that the nominee comes and says you can help my party and country, of course you'd consider it," McDonnell said today in an interview with WTOP, a Washington, D.C.-area radio station.

McDonnell said the Romney campaign has not asked him to submit any financial documents or any of the additional materials normally reviewed during the vetting process.

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