High profile gig for possible GOP running mate
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell addresses the 2011 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Governor's Summit in June 2011.
August 15th, 2011
10:11 AM ET
11 years ago

High profile gig for possible GOP running mate

Washington (CNN) - The Republican Governors Association Monday named Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell as the group's new chairman, succeeding Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who announced Saturday that he was running for president.

McDonnell had been serving as vice chairman of the organization.

"It is a tremendous honor to lead the RGA," McDonnell said in a statement put out by the group. "Thanks to the strong leadership of Governor Perry and the nation's twenty-nine Republican governors, the RGA is in position to have an unprecedented impact this election cycle."

Fourteen governorships are up for grabs in elections this and next year.

The new position will put McDonnell, who is already grabbing attention as a possible 2012 GOP running mate, further in the political spotlight. McDonnell was a hero for the party in 2009, when the then-Virginia attorney general trounced his Democratic opponent to win the state's governor's office away from the Democrats. McDonnell's poll numbers continue to stay in positive territory, and of course Virginia is a crucial battleground state in 2012.

President Barack Obama won the state in 2008, the first Democrat to capture Virginia in a presidential election since 1964.

McDonnell has said in interviews that he would be interested in being the vice presidential nominee, and he's not closing any doors to possibly running for the White House in 2016 if Obama wins re-election next year. Next month McDonnell travels to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire to keynote a state key GOP fundraiser.

"What Bill Clinton was to Democrats, Bob McDonnell is to Republicans: A new generation that can appeal to voters across the political spectrum. He's pure conservative principles with an optimistic candy coating. He will be at the top of the 2012 GOP nominee's short list for VP," says Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor.

Castellanos was a top media adviser to the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and to Romney's 2008 bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

"In 2009, Bob McDonnell ran a stellar campaign that showed Republicans a path forward for being the inclusive party we strive to be. His victory was an early sign that Republicans would have great success in the 2010 elections and his success should be of no surprise to anyone who has watched Bob McDonnell over the years," says Doug Heye, a GOP strategist and former Republican National Committee communications director.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    President Barack Obama won the state in 2008, the first Democrat to capture Virginia in a presidential election since 1964.
    Democrats won the general election that year against Republicans who were just as extreme for their time as today's Republicans are in our time. The turning point is the speech Reagan gave just a few days before Election Day advocating open nuclear warfare with the Soviet Union. A speech given in support of the Republican Presidential nominee, Barry "Mr. Conservative" Goldwater.

    August 15, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. diridi

    GOP thugs stand for Rich, Super Rich, not for you Middle Class, wake up, Revolt....I mean now needs "Revolt"......stand up for your rights, they shipped jobs to China, India.....tell them to tariff all foreign goods....I know, inflation raise, but we have manufacturing jobs in America.....o.k, not minimum wage jobs...o.k with no health insurance....o.k, we need solid jobs, not k'mart, nor McDonald's.....wake up....Revolt......GOP idiots are for "Rich", if not why not collect Tax and Raise tax on wealthy...?????????????

    August 15, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. Lynn

    McDonnell opposed raising the debt ceiling until he realized that a downgrade to the Fed, would trigger a downgrade in Virginia. He also railed against stimulus funds then used them to close his budget gap......another typical Republican.

    August 15, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. AZ DEM

    The GOP will never be the "inclusive" party Castellanos speaks of. Not when you have the religious right and the Tea party dictating to the GOP. They have proven that they are in the business of keeping the wealthiest Americans and corporations satisfied by any means necessary not the less fortunate and middle class who are TRULY the "Real Americans" the GOP seems to think their party is full of. They are full of something else but I'll be civil and suffice to say if you don't make more than 250,000 a year the GOP does NOT HAVE YOUR INTERESTS IN MIND.

    August 15, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    "We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it's been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening." Ronald Reagan, 1964, "A Time For Choosing"

    August 15, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Publius Novus

    McDonnell will fit right in with this bunch. He "balanced" his state's budget by "deferring" $600,000,000 in legally required payments to the state's pension fund until the end of his term. Then he performed some sales tax accounting gimmicks, and finished it off by issuing a press release announcing a budget surplus. (Magic performed by a "rising GOP star.") He is term limited by Virginia law to one term. He will probably be followed in office by a Democrat, who will have–at minimum–a $600,000,000+ budget hole to fill on inauguration day. The Democrat will cut spending and raise taxes, and the state GOP will clamor about "Democrat tax and spend" policies. So Bob McDonnell should be on every Republican's short list for VP. He's got that Bush-GOP accounting down pat.

    August 15, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  7. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Funny thing about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Their members pay dues to belong. The CoC represents these members for those dues. The CoC lobbys for these members in Washington. Sound familiar? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the largest Union in America, yet hates Unions and works everyday to send jobs out of the country. And some American Workers actually believe the CoC represents them.

    August 15, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |