Bloomberg News

Obama Due No Credit for Virginia Economy, McDonnell Says

April 21, 2012

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell at 39th Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) on Feb. 10, 2012 in Washington. Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell at 39th Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) on Feb. 10, 2012 in Washington. Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia said President Barack Obama can’t take credit for the state’s 5.6 percent jobless rate, though he deserves blame for the national rate of 8.2 percent.

McDonnell, a Republican viewed as a possible running mate for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said bipartisan, pro- business policies enacted by Virginia’s legislature are more responsible for the state’s economic recovery than anything the Democratic president has done.

“Our state policies and our great free enterprise leaders” are “some reasons why Virginia is doing better,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” airing this weekend.

Obama, whose 2008 victory in Virginia helped secure his election as president, can’t claim credit for the state’s return to prosperity “as long as the unemployment rate nationally remains over 8.2 percent,” the governor said. That “is just unacceptable,” he said.

“We’d be better off with somebody who actually knows how to create jobs and who will actually take decisive action to get us out of debt,” McDonnell said.

On immigration issues, McDonnell, whose party is trailing in support among Hispanic voters nationally, said undocumented aliens who “have fought for our country” should get “some special consideration” of their legal status. The governor wouldn’t say if he would give these military veterans a pathway to citizenship.

‘Haven’t Gotten Caught’

The U.S. shouldn’t tell people that “if you come here for some period of time and just because you haven’t gotten caught that we should automatically allow you to become a citizen,” he said.

McDonnell dismissed the significance of polls showing that Romney, who has opposed a pathway to citizenship for undocumented aliens as “amnesty,” lags behind Obama in support among Hispanic voters. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll conducted April 13-17 showed that Obama led among Latino voters by 69 percent to 22 percent.

During the Republican primary campaign, Romney took a hard line on immigration, criticizing Texas Governor Rick Perry for advocating in-state college tuition breaks for the children of undocumented aliens. Romney opposed legislation favored by Obama to give legal residency to the children of undocumented aliens after they perform military service or go to college.

Romney is lagging among Hispanic voters because they don’t yet know what his policies are, McDonnell said. In Virginia, the gap will “tighten up dramatically” as Hispanic voters respond to Romney’s proposals to create economic opportunity by cutting taxes and reducing government regulation, the governor said.

Hard Working

“They’re hard working, they want opportunities in small business” so “the more they hear from him, the better Mitt Romney does,” McDonnell said.

Virginia’s Latino voters also will respond to Romney because they “primarily are Catholic, so they’re pro-family, they’re pro-life,” said McDonnell, who in March signed a law requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an abdominal ultrasound exam.

The law will make sure “a woman gets all the medical and clinical and legal information she needs before she makes perhaps the most important decision of her life,” he said.

McDonnell had backed away from an earlier proposal to require a more medically invasive, trans-vaginal test. He said the measure he signed strikes “the right balance” and puts Virginia in sync with 23 other states that have similar requirements.

The new law doesn’t invade women’s privacy because “these ultrasounds are already required for medical reasons to determine gestational age,” McDonnell said. “So that really wasn’t the important part of the bill.”

He called the measure just “one bill out of 860” passed by the Virginia legislature. “Most of what we focused on was jobs and schools and roads and energy, the kitchen-table issues that men and women in Virginia care about.”

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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