Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell endorsed Mitt Romney for president in an appearance on CNBC this morning, calling Romney “a results-oriented conservative” and saying Romney is “the best leader to get America back on track to create jobs” and “get this national debt under control.”
McDonnell went on to say all of the GOP candidates would make better leaders and job creators than President Obama, but he hailed Romney’s “proven record” of creating jobs. He specifically mentioned the proximity of the South Carolina primaries as prompting him to issue the endorsement, since he is a Southern governor, and thought he could help Romney in a Southern primary. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has also endorsed Romney.
After finishing some business in New York, McDonnell is heading off to South Carolina to make some appearances with Romney today and Saturday.
Of course, McDonnell’s choice of candidates to endorse was even more limited because only Romney and Ron Paul are qualified to appear on the ballot in his state. McDonnell has been saying for some time that he thinks the GOP candidate should be a former governor, and Romney is one of the only two former governors left in the Republican presidential field. (Pop quiz: who’s the other one?) Also, McDonnell’s lieutenant governor, Bill Bolling, is the chairman of Romney’s Virginia campaign. If the Governor had chosen to endorse Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum for whatever reason, it would have been somewhat awkward.
McDonnell is also chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. CNN notes that his predecessor in that office was Texas Governor Rick Perry, who just dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Newt Gingrich.
Romney accepted the endorsement with praise for McDonnell’s record of job creation:
Governor McDonnell’s leadership in Virginia is an example for the rest of the nation… Governor McDonnell has used the conservative principles of keeping taxes and spending low and creating a fair regulatory climate to make Virginia a top destination for job creators. These same principles can be used in Washington to fix our economy and make government accountable to the taxpayers.
Besides helping Romney out in those Southern primaries, his endorsement will come in handy during the general election. Barack Obama carried Virginia in 2008, the first Democrat to do so in over forty years. A recent Politico profile pointed out that “McDonnell’s approval rating is in the high 50s” and “On his coattails, Republicans just captured control of the state House and Senate for the second time in the state’s history.” McDonnell’s also on the short list for Romney vice-presidential picks, a position he has said he would be “interested” in accepting, although he isn’t aggressively seeking it.