Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and Obama adviser David Axelrod got into a spirited debate over the administration’s policies Sunday morning on “Meet the Press.”
McDonnell touted the strength of governors for having to balance their budgets — something he faults President Obama and Congress for failing to do. But Axelrod was quick to accuse McDonnell of balancing Virginia’s budget with $1.7 billion from the Recovery Act, $3 billion in future receipts from transportation and borrowing from the pension fund.
“You did it because you were managing through difficult times and you didn’t want to burden the taxpayers of your state...but those bills are going to have to be paid,’’ Axelrod said.
McDonnell didn’t respond to the specific allegations, but maintained the best person to take on Obama in 2012 would be a Republican governor.
“Governors have a balanced budget amendment,’’ he said repeatedly. “We have some good candidates and they’ll get stronger.”
After the show McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin accused Axelrod of speaking about something he knows nothing about. “The attack was missing one little, and kind of important thing: any semblance of the facts.” Martin said. “This year’s transportation bill has nothing to do with last year’s budget, as anyone who follows Virginia politics can tell you. Unfortunately Mr. Axelrod’s entire spiel was long on charges, but short on facts.
“It’s ok, we know he doesn’t follow Virginia public policy closely,” Martin said. “Fact is, David Axelrod is a nice guy, but he’s better at Sunday talk shows than he is at understanding Virginia budgets.”
On “Meet the Press,” McDonnell also spoke about the “heartbreaking”destruction brought by a series of tornadoes last week that killed more than 300 people nationwide, including several in Virginia. McDonnell, who visited the hard-hit area of Washington County in Southwest Virginia on Friday, said Obama had pledged federal assistance.
“The American people while we disagree on some things, when we are attacked or we have a catastrophe like this, we bind together and work together better than any other country I know,’’ he said. “I think the systems are working the best they can but it is going to be a long road back for some of these communities.’’
In response to a question, McDonnell said he thought the release of Obama’s birth certificate was unnecessary.
“I thought it was a waste of time,’’ he said. “The problem with the president is not where he was a born but some of the policies he’s advocating.’’
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) also appeared on the 25-minute roundtable panel.