OTR Interviews

Gov. McDonnell: Virginia and the nation would do better under 'President Romney'

Virginia governor sounds off on state's low unemployment numbers, the war between campaigns on Romney's record at Bain Capital and the 'veepstakes'


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 13 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: 5.6 percent -- is that President Obama's favorite number? That is the unemployment rate in the state of Virginia. That's well below the national average of 8.2 percent. So will President Obama get the credit for Virginia's success? And does he deserve it? Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell joins us. Good evening, governor.

VIRGINIA GOV. BOB MCDONNELL: Hi, Greta. Nice to be on, thanks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, with the unemployment rate in Virginia of 5.6 percent the envy of many other states, how do we know whether or not the president should get credit with his stimulus bill or whether you should get credit for it or legislature or something else?

MCDONNELL: Success has 1,000 fathers but failure is an orphan. You know that old story, Greta. We're glad to be down to 5.6 percent since I've become governor down from 7.4. It really was a bipartisan accomplishment. The general assembly and I worked together.

But I would say if the president stimulus policies and all the other things coming out of Washington were working would you see it better nationally. We are over 8.1 percent for 41 consecutive months. That is not acceptable for the American people. So while 5.6 percent is good, if we had a president Mitt Romney I think we would be doing a lot better in Virginia, because the president's policies on debt, regulation, on the energy industry have been harmful to the Virginia economy. So we're fighting upstream against Washington and these policies and we could be doing better with Mitt Romney.

VAN SUSTEREN: But how does Governor Romney sell that to the voters in November. If you live in Virginia and you are doing so much better in unemployment than the rest of the country and you look at those numbers, you think, wow, President Obama's program works here. It was as high as seven percent but I will note when president Obama took office it was at 5.89 percent and now two ticks down but well below the national average.

MCDONNELL: In his first year it went from 5.8 up to 7.4 which I inherited. CNBC came out with business ratings a couple days ago. And 12 out of the 15 states with the most friendly approach to business had Republican governors. And so I would say there is something that Republican governors are doing in their states that is making a difference in terms of regulatory and right to work laws and great programs for their universities, and most importantly a very positive can do approach to business. This president is demonizing Wall Street and business and undermining entrepreneurship and the EPA. These things have been harmful for business. I think Governor Romney would say, there is still 250,000 people without work in Virginia. If you elect me we'll do what Republican governors will do and knock that unemployment rate down more because we understand you have to have more support for the entrepreneur if you are going to have access to the American dream.

VAN SUSTEREN: You used the term demonize and your thoughts whether it's fair game politically for President Obama to explore Governor Romney's Bain -- his work at Bain Capital?

MCDONNELL: Sure. I think we ought to talk everybody's record, especially the president's. Governor Romney did a great job as governor of Massachusetts cutting debts and deficits and going from 50th to 30th in this job creation. At Bain capital, in the American system of free enterprise you have the ability to succeed or fail and have the liberty. When you are a venture capitalist you do a little bit of both.

But during his time of chairman of Bain, he had 120,000 new jobs created. What president Obama is doing, he is using information after Governor Romney left as chairman of Bain and went to Romney Olympics. Things that happened in 2000 and 2001, you have to pull those irresponsible ads. Places that President Obama visited, Green Run in Virginia and I lived those places for 20 years. You know what they are interested they are not interested in Bain capital. They are interested in taxes and jobs and getting the greatest county country out of debt. This president has failed on that, and that's why I think we're going to elect Mitt Romney in Virginia.

VAN SUSTEREN: Should Governor Romney release those tax returns, and does his reluctance does it sort of cast a mystery, sort the vacuum gets filled with all kinds of suspicion, like what's he's hiding because he won't release them?

MCDONNELL: Greta, he has released more returns she obligated to do by law. What we saw on those returns --

VAN SUSTEREN: He has done nothing unlawful with Bain, nothing unlawful. But politics isn't about what is lawful and what is not. So sometimes it's about perception. So when politicians or con city went make demands for documents and someone doesn't, maybe unfair suspicion, but people get suspicious. Should he release them?

MCDONNELL: No. That is up to Mitt Romney what he wants to do. He has complied with the law. If he wants to do more that's fine with me. I would say the tax returns that the people of Virginia are interested in, it's their own tax returns. President Obama raising taxes $500 million through Obamacare plan and through his plan now to raise taxes on everybody that makes $250,000, which is every small business in America, about a million small businesses, that is tax return that people in Virginia want to hear about.

President Obama said if you don't have a good record to run on, then you basically play small ball and you try to scare people. And that's what this campaign is all about. All that hope and change rhetoric from 2008, now it's about fear and division. That is not the kind of leadership we need in America.

So if Mitt Romney wants to release it that is fine, but the issues is getting out of this $16 trillion crushing debt that President Obama has racked up $5 trillion dealt and getting our country back to work as 8.1 percent unemployment is unacceptable. Mitt Romney can do a lot better.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know I'm part of the silly game who is the next vice presidential candidate because I know we are pounding all the possible people, but I can't help myself. Can you give me any tips? Are you being vetted?

MCDONNELL: I'm over talking about that. There is one list that matters. I'm chairman of Republican Governors' Association and I'm trying to elect 12 Republican governors and help win Virginia for Mitt Romney because I think if the American story will continue to be alive and vibrant we need a new president. So that is completely up to somebody else. I've having fun just campaign for Mitt Romney here in Virginia.

VAN SUSTEREN: I couldn't resist asking. Obviously, it's contagious. Governor, thank you.

MCDONNELL: OK, thanks, Greta.