Asked if he was hoping to play a supporting role on the GOP ticket with Mitt Romney this fall, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell widely grinned as he brushed off a reporter's suggestion at a Virginia stop Tuesday afternoon.
"The biggest thing I care about right now is the presidential race this year. As long as we've got an 8 percent unemployment rate and we're $15 trillion dollars in debt, I think we need a need president, we need stronger leadership, and that's why I'm supporting Mitt Romney," McDonnell said to reporters in Annandale, Va. as he discussed the evolving governor's race in the state.
"As his vice president?" a reporter asked.
"No," McDonnell replied grinning. "I'm supporting him because I'm a fellow American and fellow governor who thinks you need executive leadership that governors have in the White House ,and we could do a lot better."
McDonnell, who served 14 years in the Virginia House of Delegates and one term as Virginia Attorney General before assuming the governorship in 2010, refused to take the route of another potential vice presidential contender - freshman Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who said over the weekend that she had more experience than Barack Obama when he became president - when he was asked if his experience is greater than Obama's. Instead, he turned the question into an analysis of what he called the president's failed policies.
"All I can say is it's not as much experience, it's what are your policies now and what's best for America. Now let me just say, the president's presided over 39 months of an unemployment rate over 8 percent. Unacceptable. It may be the best President Obama can do. It's not the best that America can do. We have the worst fiscal situation in American history. 15 trillion dollars in debt," McDonnell said outside Fredericksburg Machine & Steel in Fredericksburg Tuesday. "All I can say is, apart from experience is, his policies have not been good."
When asked if he thought it was appropriate for Mitt Romney to claim partial responsibility for the turnaround in the auto industry, McDonnell did not wade into the controversy, saying he would leave it to experts to make that call.
"I'm going to let the experts determine whether or not the bailout the president proposed is responsible for GM's success. I can tell you that we saw some GM dealers going out of business in Virginia. We also see Ford that didn't get bailed out also doing pretty well, so there are some other things going on in the auto industry that I think would be responsible for it. There might have been multiple paths. One was a bailout and one was a managed bankruptcy.
"There might have been other alternatives to be able to get GM back on its feet," McDonnell said. "All I can say is, we're delighted that GM is doing so well. We want people to buy American. Just like Don's buying American steel, we want to see Virginians, as much as possible, buying cars that are made in America, and we're delighted with GM coming back. I'll let others decide who's responsible for what."
McDonnell is conducting tour of Virginia throughout the week. On Tuesday, he signed legislation to protect victims of sexual and domestic violence.