WASHINGTON – As an increasing number of party favorites distance themselves from former Gov. Mitt Romney and his approach to a hard lock on the Republican nomination, one local leader has signaled he would consider taking up the mantle of “running mate.”
Romney is the clear front-runner more than 48 percent of the Republican support, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics aggregate poll, now that Rick Santorum has dropped out. The former Massachusetts governor now only faces Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, both more than 27 points behind the leader. He expects to win the five states holding primaries on Tuesday — Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — and the 231 delegates that come with them.
The Republican governor of Virginia, the nation’s top state for business, according to a 2011 study, told WTOP on Tuesday he would be open to accepting the position of running mate, if asked.
“If the nominee comes, of course you consider it,” Bob McDonnell said on WTOP’s “Ask The Governor” program, adding he is not proactively “looking for” or “asking for” the position.
McDonnell seized the opportunity while speaking about energy and business development — two hot topics during the election season — to take pot shots at the administration of President Barack Obama, who will likely face off against Romney in the fall.
“The more (the White House) stays out of our way, the better we do,” he said. “I’ll give them credit for staying out.”
He also chided the president for not allowing Virginia to explore drilling for oil off its coast, which he says would lower gas prices.
“We need to use all of our God-given resources in America,” he said, instead of relying on a supply of oil from an unstable Middle East.
The field of potential contenders for the vice presidential nod has narrowed as Romney heads closer to the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the party nomination. Wins across the board on Tuesday would bring his total up to 886.
Many in the party have looked to young up-and-comers like Tea Party favorite and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, or Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a freshman lawmaker. Both politicians backed away from the spotlight earlier in April, saying they would not seek the vice presidential position.
The governors of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, and New Mexico, Susana Martinez, also shied away from the position.
Check out what else Gov. McDonnell discussed Tuesday, including E-ZPass fees, speed cameras in Virginia and his stance on abortion, in our Live Blog:
10:57 a.m., speaking about his alma mater Notre Dame losing to Baylor in the women’s basketball championship:
It was a spectacular accomplishment.
10:56 a.m., speaking about a case where a transgendered individual is trying to get the prison system to pay for a state sex change:
The courts have ruled that’s not a requirement for the state. Prisoners are entitled to “basic, good medical care.”
My concern is getting them out of prison and keeping them out.
10:54 a.m., speaking about if he would consider accepting the vice presidential position for the Republican Party:
“I’m not looking for it, I’m not asking for it.”
If the nominee comes, of course you consider it.
10:53 a.m., speaking about allowing speed cameras, currently not used in Virginia:
I would prefer to have police officers preventing and solving crimes instead of speeding issues.
Cameras should be a public safety issue, not a revenue generator. We should find a way to enforce the law, for public safety issues.
Those aren’t free. The consumer pays a transaction fee every time they’re used. This is just one suggestion.
“I’m a little concerned about it.”
10:46 a.m., speaking about gas prices:
It’s hard for anyone to control the price at the pump. The gas tax does some of that. I’ve asked the White House to give us the ability to drill off-shore. The more supply you have, the less gas prices ought to be.
The situation will not get any better as long as we rely on supply from an unstable Middle East.
“We need to use all of our God-given resources in America.”
10:42 a.m., speaking about voter IDs:
I’m a firm believer in one person, one vote. That’s a constitutional principle.
We already require a voter to show up at the polls and show an ID. We know 99.75 percent of Virginians complied with the law. They sign an affidavit saying the voter is presenting their true identity. A proposal would require voters who don’t bring an ID to follow up with documents to prove their identity.
Doing simply a signature check has worked in Florida. I’m disappointed both sides of the aisle didn’t support that initiative.
“We should not do anything that potentially disenfranchises the voter.”
10:41 a.m., speaking about the recent denial of service hack on the D.C. website:
“That’s a concern for people that hold data all over the country, not just from people outside the country.”
We have cybersecurity initiatives. We see that from time to time, such as with veterans records.
10:31 a.m., speaking about his stance on abortion, which a Washington Post report says has softened:
I thought their article was “very silly.”
“I am a strong, pro-life Catholic.”
My view, in keeping with the church views, is that abortion should not be allowed unless the mother is at risk.
When every other paper in the state was talking about education, the budget and development, the Post was writing a “three-year-old story that was debunked.”
There is a federal amendment that says you cannot have federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or the endangerment of the mother.
In the public policy sphere, you have to be able to abide by the law.
We de-funded Planned Parenthood in Virginia. We passed legislation to have abortion clinics enforced the same as hospitals.
The Democrats right now can’t talk about jobs or employment numbers, so they’re always trying to plant stories about other issues.
“It’s not surprising for an election year with Virginia being a swing state.”
“Virginia is obviously a swing state.”
10:26 a.m., speaking about corporate environmental sustainability:
More businesses are realizing it’s the right thing to do, and “it’s just smart business.”
We’re hoping to increase the amount of open space to 400,000 in my term.
10:25 a.m., speaking about tolls for drivers coming into Virginia:
It’s a part of the funding process. We’ve done several other things, such as $3.2 million in bonds last year.
10:23 a.m., speaking about reducing unemployment:
It’s the overall climate, such as taxes and litigation, which determine whether businesses will grow.
It’s a bipartistan accomplishment.
“The more (the White House) stays out of our way, the better we do. I’ll give them credit for staying out.”
10:21 a.m., speaking about reducing toxic chemicals in the Bay, increasing Blue Crab hauls:
We’ve seen record increases in Blue Crabs, we’re really thrilled to see the results.
“It’s phenomenally important” to all of those communities on the western side of the Bay, which also spurs recreational fishing.
10:16 a.m., speaking about Virginians who have trouble getting into Virginia colleges:
We’ve embarked on a two-year, historic reform of our higher education system, with the goal of 100,000 new degrees at a new cost. I announced yesterday we have $330 million new funds to contribute to this.
We have to stop this unsustainable doubling of college tuition every 10 years.
I told college presidents we need to keep the cost of tuition down to the cost of inflation, which was over 2 percent last year.
10:11 a.m., continuing to speak about the Silver Line Metro:
Virginia has a minority representation on the MWAA board, even though we pay for a majority of the project.
The union labor agreement runs up the cost for our taxpayers.
“We want to be able to keep this project on track. We’ve put more money into it, we’ve fixed the management problems.”
Until we get new accountability into the board, it isn’t representing the people of Virginia.
What we need right now for this $250 million-per-mile project is to have the project well managed.
10:04 a.m., speaking about Va. contribution to Silver Line Metro funding:
“A lot of things get lost in the shuffle in last-minute budget negotiations.”
We don’t have any new resources this year. We still have some from last year we got through bond funding.
Former Gov. Kaine turned the responsibility over to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority with no caps on tolls. We only get $9 million from the federal government, and we need to fund the rest.
I am a strong supporter of this rail-to-Dulles project. We cut out the underground station which was “unnecessary for the project.”
WTOP’s Paul D. Shinkman contributed to this report. Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.