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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

Interview

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CROWLEY: Joining me, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. He heads the Republican Governor's Association

And you're a man that has been out to Wisconsin to try to help Governor Walker stay in office. About $8.3 million you all have sent out to him to try --

MCDONNELL: About.

CROWLEY: About, but probably a little more by this point.

MCDONNELL: Yes.

CROWLEY: What do you think is at stake? We just heard from the mayor, the Democratic challenger, that he doesn't think this has anything to do with the national scene. Does it?

MCDONNELL: I think it will, but it's certainly about Wisconsin. It's about a governor campaigning and saying elect me and I will do certain things to create more jobs and get our fiscal house in order. And this is a guy that's kept his word and I think the voters will reward him for his courage. So it's really about Wisconsin.

CROWLEY: And if he loses, what does it say?

MCDONNELL: I'm not planning on that, Candy. I mean, I think the tracking polling --

CROWLEY: You must fear that, though, a little bit.

MCDONNELL: Well, of course, because it's all about the ground game, there's same-day registration in Wisconsin, which can change the dynamics. But Scott has worked incredibly hard. And I think here is what at stake. He said we will get a $3.6 billion budget fixed. We will reduce property taxes --

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Budget shortfall.

MCDONNELL: -- and we will create jobs. Yes. And that's what he did. And I think -- this is about results. It's going to be the same thing with Romney and Obama. As you put policies in place, were they controversial? Sure.

Does it take guts and leadership to tell people we can't afford to do these things any more and we need to change to be more competitive in Wisconsin? Sure. But he's done it. Now he's getting the results. And that's why he's going to win, is people that might not have liked the reforms are seeing that they're working.

CROWLEY: But if they come back a year and a half later and say, we don't like these reforms, and they reject him, does that not say that you can go too far, that this is one Republican who went too far and found himself out of office?

MCDONNELL: Ask me Wednesday. Because see, that's -- I don't think that's going to happen.

CROWLEY: I'm going to hold you to that then.

MCDONNELL: Well, you can do that because -- and this is what's happening in Washington as well, is people expected results.

Obama promised a couple years ago, if I don't have this deal done in three years, it's going to be a one-term proposition, meaning on spending, on deficit, on debt and jobs, and he hasn't delivered. And that's why I think there will be a change in leadership in Washington. People are tired of the rhetoric. They want to see people get things done.

CROWLEY: Let me talk to you a little bit about the swing state of Virginia.

MCDONNELL: Yes.

CROWLEY: And I want to show our viewers your unemployment rate, which has basically stayed two to three points below the national unemployment rate. It's a success story really.

MCDONNELL: You can keep that up for awhile.

CROWLEY: OK, yes. You like this, I understand that . But even as you embrace it as a Republican governor, does it not make it difficult for Mitt Romney, who has the same problem in other swing states, to come in and say the economy is terrible and, you know, you need to elect a new president, because Virginia is doing very well under President Obama. MCDONNELL: Yes, I don't think it undermines his argument at all for two reasons. One is as well as we've been fortunate to do with the lowest unemployment in the Southeast, I tell people, think how much better we'd do if we had President Romney.

And number two, I think that there's something going on with Republican governed states. Seven out of the 10 states, Candy, nationwide, that have the lowest unemployment rates, Republican governed states. Eleven out of the 15 --

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Do you credit President Obama at all for the good fortune Virginia has? He's done nothing at all to help you all?

MCDONNELL: Well, I would ask you, what would you point to that would lead you to say that that unemployment -- the only thing I can say is he had a nearly a trillion dollars in stimulus, and that was one-time spending. Did it help us in the short run with health care and education spending to balance the budget? Sure.

Does it help us in the long term to really cut the unemployment rate? I'd say no. But we have done a lot of things. Republicans and Democrats in Virginia doing some things I requested on economic development and targeted tax cuts and other things that I think have made a difference.

So I'd say Republican governors are doing some things that are making a difference and that's why I'm trying to get more of them this year.

CROWLEY: So just a tiny bit of credit to the president?

MCDONNELL: Well, sure. I think there's national policies that is have had some impact, but I can tell you this, if we didn't have all these attacks on Virginia's energy industry, we'd be in a lot better shape.

This president on coal, natural gas, nuclear, not letting us drill offshore, the Environmental Protection Agency's over-burdensome regulations on coal and natural gas have made it much more difficult for us. We'd be lower on the unemployment rate if we didn't have these policies.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about Governor Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts.

MCDONNELL: Sure.

CROWLEY: When he -- during his four years there, the state was 47th in job creation. There was a net gain in payroll jobs over his four years of 1 percent, which is well below the net gain nationwide. Spending went up, the size of government went up.

What kind of record is that for a Republican to run on? MCDONNELL: Well, I'd say it's better than that. He went from 47th down to 30th in job creation by the time he left office. He had a $3.6 billion deficit, too. Was able to cut that and left office with a $2 billion rainy day fund. I'd say that's pretty good.

CROWLEY: But in the end, you know, he was 47th throughout that whole four-year period, and he is selling himself as a businessman that knows how to create jobs and yet really didn't do that very well when he was in Massachusetts. You see the Democrats going after this. What's his defense here?

MCDONNELL: Well, the numbers I have is it went down to 30th by the time he left office nationwide in job creation. More importantly than that, Candy, is what he did in the private sector. Listen, he had a Democrat legislature.

That's a deep blue state and I think that managing the fiscal house and trying to create jobs during that time, he had to combat a Democratic legislature, but look what he did at Bain Capital, in the private sector as the executive director of the Olympics, turning that around, over 100,000 new jobs through venture capital and seeding companies with capital.

He knows how to create jobs in the private sector. He understands the American dream because he's lived it. And I'd say if President Obama had the kind of record Mitt Romney did, he'd be talking about it, but he can't run on it.

CROWLEY: Two quick questions. I need two quick answers. Donald Trump staying on the birther issue, seems to me that a cynic would look at that and go, well, you know, it helps keep a certain part of the base of the Republican Party happy.

Mitt Romney has not condemned it. In fact, he campaigned and fundraised alongside Donald Trump. Are you bothered by the kinds of things he's saying?

(CROSSTALK)

MCDONNELL: I think Mitt Romney and I both agree the president was born in America. It's not where he was born. It's his policies that are the issue in this race. Eight percent unemployment rate for 40 months, the largest debt in American history at $16 trillion and growing and no plan on debt reduction and energy, that's the issue, not where he was born.

CROWLEY: Has the Romney campaign asked for any papers in their VP search from you?

MCDONNELL: They have asked for my schedule to see where I can help them next, and it's going to be in Virginia.

CROWLEY: But they haven't asked for any V.P. -- MCDONNELL: No, I'll leave all that up to Mitt Romney. But I'm going to help him win Virginia. CROWLEY: Sounds like maybe he has. We'll talk to you about that later. Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell, thank you so much.

MCDONNELL: Good to be on with you.

CROWLEY: Amid new signs that the recovery may be hitting the brakes, Republicans and Democrat are pointing fingers.

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