ROSEMONT, Ill. -- After a day of speakers competing to heap scorn on President Obama, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell took a novel approach at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday: talk up the presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, as well.
"We need a change, and that change is Mitt Romney. This is a guy that is a man of faith, a man of character. A guy I know a little bit about. I'm honored to be a surrogate going around the country for Mitt Romney,” McDonnell told the crowd of conservatives.
“Yes, his dad was a governor, but he didn’t get anything handed to him. He worked, he used his talents to do good things, and now, he's going to be our candidate," McDonnell said. "He's going to be our next president because this is his record: In Massachusetts, he cut $3 billion out of the deficit in a blue state and at the same time was able to create jobs, stand up for the right to life, stand up for the Second Amendment, and get things done in Massachusetts. He turned things around at the Olympics. That's the guy that knows how to manage things, and boy, we need to turn around the fiscal health of the United States of America.” McDonnell was the first prominent speaker of the day to spend more than a sentence or two talking up Romney.
Like many of his fellow governors who spoke at the Friday conference, McDonnell highlighted his own record as well, boasting about low unemployment, pension and education reform, and budget surpluses in his own state. But he clearly aimed to build up his own party, praising his fellow governors around the country -- he is the head of the Republican Governors Association -- and telling the audience that his experience as a retired Army officer had taught him that “the ground guys get the troops motivated and get the job done.”
Of course, he didn’t pass up the chance to take a few shots of his own. McDonnell opened his speech by telling the audience he was “delighted to see all of you in the private sector are doing just fine,” a swipe at Obama’s comments earlier on Friday that the private sector was doing well. And as he talked about Virginia encouraging the private sector, he quipped, “We think success is a good thing. Unlike some people in the White House today,” as the audience chuckled.