McDonnell gave a pen to each member of the delegation as he signed each bill, handing out three to Democratic state Sen. Janet Howell before recommending two of those pens be handed to two women who advocated for the bills. Howell described the governor's willingness and ability to work across "party" and "regional" lines, a positive pitch from a Democrat about the GOP governor almost handcrafted for someone who would preside over the often-gridlocked Senate as vice president. Public safety is "what got me into politics as a young prosecutor in Virginia Beach," said the Army veteran before signing the bills. McDonnell has a record in statewide office that would appeal to base Republicans nationally but there is also a part of his record that could win him some bipartisan praise. McDonnell has shown a willingness to be forgiving in the area of restoring rights to former felons. A Roanoke Times editorial from January states that during his "first two years in office, McDonnell restored the right to vote to more than 2,500 ex convicts." The editorial noted he "outpaced his two Democratic predecessors at the midway point in their administrations, which in turn had increased voting-rights restorations dramatically over preceding Republican governors." McDonnell has about a year and a half left in his term as governor, but he's not saying much about the 2013 race for his position. When asked on May 8 about the rumor that one of two predecessors, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, may run for governor again in 2013, McDonnell said he has talked to him about it but didn't mention the details of their conversation. "Well, it's too early to tell," said McDonnell. As for whether his preferred candidate, GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, could be competitive against the popular Democrat in 2013, McDonnell declared, "Sure. Absolutely." "Look at the last three cycles," he said, referring to major GOP gains in 2009, 2010 and 2011. "This is still a right-of-center state." McDonnell let out an elongated "no" with a smile when asked if he planned to serve as Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate and stuck to his talking points about helping Romney defeat President Obama in 2012. But he spoke differently about Warner than he did about Obama in that he did not lob any attacks against the junior senator.
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