OTR Interviews

Va. Gov. McDonnell: Romney is the right leader for the right time

With only two of the four candidates on the ballot, how much impact will the primary have - and how fair is it?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 5, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: In less than eight hours Super Tuesday voters in Virginia start voting. But we already know who will not win in Virginia. How do we know that? Senator Rick Santorum and former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich are not even on the Virginia ballot. Only Congressman Ron Paul and Governor Mitt Romney are on that ballot. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has endorsed Governor Romney. Governor McDonnell joins us. Good evening, sir.

VIRGINIA GOV. BOB MCDONNELL: Hey, Greta, thanks for having me on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you. Well, there should be a big night in your state for your candidate, Governor Romney. How many delegates are likely to be handed over to the governor?

MCDONNELL: There are 49 at stake, Greta. It's proportional assignment for the winner, but if a candidate gets more than 50 percent that person takes all. I think it will be good night for Mitt Romney. I think he'll take all 49. He is going into this with more delegates than anybody else. My guess he'll have a good night in places like Idaho, Massachusetts, and Virginia and he'll come out as the clear front-runner in this race. And hopefully we wind it down in facing Obama in November.

VAN SUSTEREN: It seems almost politically fatal for Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich. Both have homes in your states but neither was successful on getting on the ballot, a huge political blunder.

MCDONNELL: I think so. It takes money, message, and organization to be a candidate for President of the United States. We have a high bar here in Virginia. It's 10,000 signatures. I did it twice. It takes a little bit of work. But if you want to be President of the United States, you ought to be able to get 10,000 signatures. I wish they were on. We would have more Republicans that could identify for the November election. So it's really too bad. But it bodes well for Mitt Romney. At the end of the day he is the right guy for this time because of his message on taxes and spending on jobs, and he is the right leader.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain to me your theory. In 2008, President Obama, a Democrat, won your state by six points. Then in 2009 when you ran for governor, you won, a Republican by about 17 or 18 points. What happened? Is there anything you can point to which way your state is going to go come November?

MCDONNELL: I think after 2008 President Obama winning it took Virginians just a year to realize that message of hope and change, it sounded good and uplifting, but it was a lot of empty rhetoric. We had unemployment skyrocket to nearly nine percent. We had the greatest increase in debt that anybody has seen under one term of a presidency. I think people thought, this is not really the direction we want to go.

Virginia is right of center and has been a long time. And they saw this leftward shift that the president was taking us to. And it was a correction I would say with our win. And then of course we won three Congressional seats in 2010, the largest number of delegates in the House of Delegates history for Republicans three months ago. And so I think Virginia being a commonsense conservative state has a great chance to go for Mitt Romney in November.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm curious how much the impact of the Obama campaign of money to mobilize Democrats in your state, obviously when you ran in 2009 you didn't have the enthusiasm of President Obama in the race. He ran 2008. I wonder to what extent that accounts for some of the gap?

MCDONNELL: That's clearly some of it. We had 25-point drop-off between the turnout in the presidential and the turnout in my race. But I can tell you the enthusiasm flipped 180 degrees to when I won in 2009 because people, I think, were pleased with our team. But more importantly we ran against Obama's policy on cap and trade, deficit spending, one-size- fits-all policies from Washington, violating what we thought was the Tenth Amendment. I think it was a pretty visceral reaction in Virginia. And I think people around the country are very concerned, particularly independent voters, about what is happening with this president and why independent voters will vote for Mitt Romney this time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you.

MCDONNELL: OK, Greta, great glad to be on. Thank you.