The night before Mitt Romney announced his vice presidential pick, he called Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to say he was putting somebody else on his ticket.
McDonnell’s reaction, as he described it on a radio show Tuesday: “I was excited to get that call.”
McDonnell, long considered a contender for the No. 2 slot, said he was content with the consolation prize: having the Romney unveil his running mate, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, in Virginia.
McDonnell took that as a nod to the state’s importance in the presidential race, although it turns out Virginia wasn’t Romney’s first choice. The Romney campaign initially planned to announce Ryan’s selection in New Hampshire Friday, the Post’s Philip Rucker reports. It shifted to Virginia on Saturday to allow Ryan to attend a memorial service for victims of a Sikh temple shooting in his district.
“Governor Romney called me Friday evening to let me know the fact that the decision for vice president had been made and that he was going to announce it the next morning in Norfolk,” McDonnell said on WNIS-AM 790 in Norfolk. “And the candidate would be there, and that I would get a chance to introduce him. And then he would have the candidate come walking down the gangplank of the [USS] Wisconsin.
“So I thought, ‘What a great venue that’s going to be.’ And it obviously showed the importance that he places on Virginia to make the announcement here. And, of course, with Paul Ryan, who is a fantastic choice, walking down the plank of the [USS] Wisconsin, the state that he’s from, it couldn’t have been more fitting and poignant. So I thought it was a great day. I was excited to get that call, and I think that this is a very good team for the future of our country.”
A caller to the radio show said she had been “saddened” to learn that McDonnell would not be on the ticket, telling the governor, ‘You’re the most presidential person.”
McDonnell said he was flattered that Romney had considered him, but said Romney would be well served by Ryan’s “skill set” — his “astounding command of the federal budget. That’s the biggest problem we have.”
“It was nice to be kicked around with the names of a bunch of other very significant and talented people that were being considered by Governor Romney,” McDonnell said. “He made a great choice that will be great for America.”