Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said Tuesday that he was surprised when Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels both decided against running for the Republican nomination for president.

McDonnell praised both men and said that with neither man in the race, he would wait for the field to settle before endorsing a candidate.

“I know them both well,” McDonnell said . “I know them both to be very fine governors and the kind of chief executive officers who are policy driven and decisive. So I thought they’d be in the mix. But, listen, I’m still waiting to see who’s finally in the field.”

McDonnell got to know Barbour while the Mississippi governor served as head of the Republican Governors’ Association during McDonnell’s 2009 run for Virginia’s top job. McDonnell’s also said he wanted to model his government reform efforts in Virginia on Daniels’ effort in Indiana.

With a solid approval rating in a key political battleground, McDonnell has been getting increasing buzz as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate. His endorsement could be key in the still muddy Republican nominating process.

On Tuesday, McDonnell reiterated past comments indicating that he believes a current or former governor would make the best candidate--a resume criteria that would point to possible support for either former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

It would seemingly rule out a number of other possible contenders, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and businessman Herman Cain.

“I think you need decisive leadership, and I think a governor does provide that,” McDonnell said. “I’m partial to the gubernatorial candidates that are running for president, but I’ll wait to see who’s in and make a decision at a later time.