Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell wanted to talk about public service, in a heart-warming, holiday kinda way.
And the press corps wanted to hear about public service as well, but in a different context, one less likely to bring about peace on Earth.(At least in the short term.)
McDonnell held a news conference Friday to declare December “Opportunity to Help Others Month” in Virginia. He’d assembled religious leaders and charities to talk about the good works they’re doing on behalf of disaster victims, underprivileged kids, even animals. Warm fuzzies all around.
Then McDonnell (R) opened the program to questions from reporters, who mainly wanted to hear about — you guessed it! — two public servants poised to engaged in a knock-down, drag-out GOP gubernatorial primary.
We’ve long known that Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) planned to run to succeed McDonnell in 2013. But since Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) let it be known this week that he’s also running, Richmond reporters have been interested in little else.
(Unless you count my colleague Anita Kumar’s Tommy Lee Jones sighting at Bistro Bobette, which was nearly as exciting as her political scoop . If you’re wondering, the jeans-and-leather-jacket clad Jones, in town to film Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln movie, had the mussels and the blood-orange sorbet. But I digress.)
Reporters at the news conference made a couple of obligatory queries about the uplifting subject at hand, then lobbed question after question about the Cuccinelli-Bolling matchup. They kept at it even after McDonnell politely indicated that he’d rather not talk about the race — not at that moment, nor until he gets through the coming General Assembly session.
“For the next 90 days,” he said, “I don’t want to hear anything about a campaign in 2013.”