(CNN) - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is not running for re-election next year. He can't by law. Yet a glowing ad buy from his political action committee has hit the airwaves and sparked questions as to why he needs the publicity.
The ad, released last week, features a stream of Virginians pointing to the state's job growth and budget surplus. "Jobs and opportunity are thriving again," McDonnell said at the end of the spot. "Virginia is growing strong, and so is our future."
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McDonnell, term-limited for governor, has been characterized as a potential vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney. Using the new ads, could he be trying to make his case?
A spokesman for the governor, Tucker Martin, denied McDonnell had made the commercial to boost his reputation. Tucker told USA Today in a story published Monday that the ads were targeting Virginians, not Romney's "veep" search committee.
"These ads aren't running in Boston," Martin said, referring to Romney's campaign headquarters. "They're running in South Boston, Va. These are ads celebrating Virginia and Virginians."
His comments came amid swirling speculation in recent days that the Virginia ads were part of an effort to ramp up the governor's favorability ratings in the state, or perhaps sharpen his image while his name is floated as a potential vice presidential pick.
And last week McDonnell suggested he was eager to help Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, win the election in any way he could.
"Anybody who asks me to help the party or help the ticket in some way so we can get Mitt Romney elected, you know I'm willing to consider doing," McDonnell told an Indiana GOP Spring Dinner. "But there's a lot of great people in our party and there's a really deep bench and a lot of people could serve Mitt Romney well."
He added the running mate choice is "completely a choice that Mitt Romney needs to make" and "we'll just have to stay tuned and see what he says."
While Virginia's unemployment rate has dropped since he took office, recent polls have shown slipping approval ratings for the governor, especially after he signed a controversial bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion.
McDonnell endorsed Romney in January ahead of his state's primary, which Romney won handily on March 6, Super Tuesday.
- CNN's Gabriella Schwarz contributed to this report.