The Washington Post

Romney surrogate McDonnell says Obama stimulus plan helped Virginia

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) wandered off script somewhat Sunday as a surrogate for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, conceding that President Obama’s stimulus measures helped his state weather the economic crisis.

McDonnell, a potential vice presidential candidate who has sought to walk a tightrope between conservatives and moderates, acknowledged on CNN’s “State of the Union” that federal assistance aided Virginia in balancing its budget, but said it had no positive long-term impact.

“Did it help us in the short run with health care and education and spending to balance the budget? Sure,” McDonnell said. “Does it help us in the long term to really cut the unemployment rate? I’d say no.”

The remarks were part of a war of words between Obama and Romney surrogates in the wake of Friday’s disappointing jobs report, which showed just 69,000 jobs added in May and a slight uptick in the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent. The numbers slowed in part because of continued losses in public-sector jobs and continued weakness in construction.

Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said the stumbling economy and weak performance by the Obama campaign boded well for the Republican candidate’s chances in November.

“There’s clearly a feeling in Boston that governor Romney is going to beat President Obama,” Gillespie said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to the Romney campaign’s home base. “. . . Governor Romney’s experience and his record and his positive agenda for turning this country around, I think, are what’s going to prevail at the end of the day.”

Gillespie also echoed other Romney advisers in seeking to distance the candidate from former president George W. Bush, who continues to shoulder most of the blame among voters for the 2008 economic collapse. Gillespie said Romney’s fiscal plans are different than Bush’s because they would include broad spending cuts and closing tax loopholes.

But Steven Rattner, who oversaw the Obama administration’s rescue of the auto industry, said the economic outlook would be much worse without Obama’s efforts. Rattner also chided Republicans in Congress for failing to act on jobs proposals and said Romney’s financial plans would not fix the economy.

“Nobody is happy with the rate of job creation today, but I believe without the policies the president put in place we wouldn’t have even this level of job creation today,” Rattner said on “Fox News Sunday,” pointing to about 4 million jobs added since the economy hit bottom.

During his CNN appearance, when asked whether Obama deserved “just a tiny bit of credit” for helping the economy, McDonnell said: “Well, sure. I think there are national policies that have had some impact.”

But McDonnell also criticized Obama for “overburdensome regulations” and argued that Republican-led states have fared better during the downturn and struggling recovery.

“Think how much better we’d do if we had President Romney,” he said.

Deputy Editor, National Politics

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Listen
Play Video
Quoted
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.