Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) offered a backhanded compliment Sunday morning when asked on national television about the vice presidential prospects of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), a supporter of Mitt Romney.
“While Maryland’s had a better rate of job creation than Virginia, the truth is Virginia ranks far higher than Massachusetts did under Gov. Romney, so for that reason, I think Gov. McDonnell would be actually a better job creator than Mitt Romney was,” O’Malley said during a joint appearance with his counterpart from Virginia on NBC’s ”Meet the Press.”
Pressed by host David Gregory about McDonnell’s potential value to a Romney ticket, O’Malley said of McDonnell: “Oh, I don’t know. I think he's a very skilled leader, and he does an able job as the head of the Republican Governors Association.”
The Sunday show was the latest in a string of faceoffs between McDonnell and O’Malley, who is chairman of the dueling Democratic Governors Association. Both party leaders largely stuck to their talking points when asked about the performance of the economy and the strengths and weaknesses of their preferred presidential candidates.
Gregory pressed McDonnell on a bill he recently signed that will require women to undergo ultrasounds before they have abortions.
“Listen, that was one bill out of a thousand we passed,” McDonnell said, suggesting social issues were not a prominent part of his agenda.”It was all focused on jobs and economic development, education and a number of other things. That’s my agenda.”
Gregory asked McDonnell if he was wrong to support “a very invasive procedure,” referring to the original version of the bill, which would have mandated that women undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, a procedure that requires a probe be inserted into the vagina.
The final version of the bill said invasive ultrasounds are voluntary and exempts women who have reported to law enforcement agencies that they are victims of rape or incest.
McDonnell told Gregory that he only supported “the concept of an ultrasound” and accused Democrats of making a big deal of social issues to deflect attention from their performance on the economy.
O’Malley said Virginia’s debate over the ultrasound issue is part of a pattern in Republican-led states where “cultural issues are crowding out the things that we really should concern us most,” which he identified as ”expanding jobs and opportunity.”
“These cultural battles that drive people apart are not helpful to driving us forward,” O’Malley said.
Maryland’s recently passed same-sex marriage bill, which O’Malley sponsored, did not come up during the segment.
Toward the end, McDonnell responded to a question about whether he is interested in being president.
“No,” he said. “I’ve got the job held by Jefferson and Henry. I love being governor of Virginia.”