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Posts tagged "Bob McDonnell"


Federal authorities charged former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife with illegally accepting gifts from a Virginia donor in exchange for helping promote the donor’s business.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted on 14 counts in a Richmond federal court, the Washington Post reported.

The McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 in loans and gifts, including a Rolex inscribed personally for Bob McDonnell, from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The McDonnells promoted Williams’ business, and helped Williams meet with Virginia officials.

The couple was informed late last year they were going to be indicted, but authorities later deferred the decision about whether to indict to the new year.

McDonnell, a Republican, was elected in 2009 and concluded his single term this month.

The Virginia Board of Health voted 11-2on Friday “to require abortion clinics to meet strict, hospital-style building codes” that many women’s health advocates say will put abortion providers out of business and prevent women from accessing essential medical services.

Pending final review by conservative state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) — which is almost definite — Virginia is now one step closer to joining other GOP-led states such as North DakotaMississippi, and Alabama in imposing stringent regulations meant to arbitrarily shut down abortion clinics.

Friday’s vote represents the latest skirmish in an ongoing conservative war on abortion clinics. In the past three months, states have proposed an astonishing 694 provisions restricting or rolling back women’s reproductive rights. Efforts to shutter local abortion clinics disproportionately impact low-income women and significantly increase the incidence unintended pregnancies.

h/t: Think Progress Health



Vogel, a former Republican National Committee election lawyer, said she saw no problem with the bill’s legality, but objected to the image it creates for her party so soon after Obama’s victory last fall.

“It’s the timing of it,” she said. “It’s just an awful impression it makes.”

Riiiiiight. By “awful,” of course, she means “an accurate assessment of what our party is all about.”

(via pop-rocks-blowjob)

Virginia chooses a new governor this November, and Democrats are already firing with both barrels at state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the likely Republican nominee to replace Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

Cuccinelli makes a very easy target, especially when — like he did once again Monday — he compares his fight against the contraception coverage mandate found in ‘Obamacare’ to the non-violent civil rights struggle led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Monday, MLK Day, Cuccinelli again made the comparison between his fight against the federal requirement that birth control be offered with no copay by insurance plans to King’s fight for equal rights for African Americans. Cuccinelli earned some headlines earlier this month when he told an Iowa show that opponents of the mandate need to be prepared to “go to jail” in protest of the law. (He later tried to walk that back a bit.)

Cuccinelli was asked Monday about the controversy on The John Fredericks Show, a conservative talk show in Virginia. He was shocked Democrats would raise the issue, casting the battle as a struggle for rights rather than an attack on contraception.

“Whenever I talk about religious liberty, you know they turn it around. All they talk about -they don’t talk about denying religious liberty. They talk about contraception. And I’m not talking about contraception. Government doesn’t have a role in contraception,” Cuccinelli told the radio show. “Government does have a role in protecting your civil rights especially today on MLK Day. The man who really came up with the American non-violent protest theory of civil disobedience. It’s pretty egregious that they can’t get any higher than contraception when we’re talking about protecting people’s religious liberty.”

It’s not the first time Cuccinelli has compared the fight over the contraception mandate to King’s fight for civil rights. From the Virginian-Pilot last week:

Last year, he shared the anecdote about his chat with the bishop [who he said should be prepared to go to jail] at an event for a prison ministry group and obliquely invoked Martin Luther King Jr. for emphasis, asking the crowd “Ever read a little item called Letter from Birmingham jail?”

Democrats leapt on Monday’s remarks, seeing a fresh vulnerability for the conservative Cuccinelli, who is best known nationally as a tea party rockstar. The state Democratic Party sent over a blistering statement from former Delegate Ferguson Reid (D), the first African American legislator elected in Virginia in the 20th century. Reid was a leader during Virginia’s civil rights struggle, and a founder of the state’s Crusade For Voters in the 1950s.

H/T: Evan McMorris-Santoro at TPM

If Republican challenger Mitt Romney doesn’t emerge triumphant on Election Day, the party will have a deep bench of contenders to draw from in 2016. Here is a list of the top 10 to watch.

1. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

In 2008, Republicans begged Christie to make a run for the White House. In 2016, the combative governor may be better positioned to seek the presidency, and there are signs that Christie wants the job: He used his keynote speech at the Republican convention mainly to tout his own accomplishments. Republicans love to see Christie play the role of partisan warrior, but Christie also projects a real sincerity that voters on both sides of the aisle appreciate. Christie’s tough talk didn’t stop him from winning in a left-leaning state.  

2. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

The Cuban-American senator is widely seen as a top pick for 2016, particularly as the GOP desperately needs to win over Hispanic voters as the electorate becomes more diverse. Rubio also has strong ties to the tea party, credentials that could help him in a Republican primary. In order to get the nomination, however, Rubio would need to prove that he’s a leader with substance commensurate to his celebrity. He’s also not the only Latino Republican with star power: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s fiery speech at the convention blew Rubio’s remarks out of the water. 

3. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

The outgoing chairman of the Republican Governors Association has been both charming on the campaign trail and adept at pushing his agenda through a bipartisan Legislature. As the governor of a swing state, he’s well-positioned for a run at the White House once he’s term-limited out of office in 2013. An Army veteran, McDonnell also has military credentials that many other contenders lack. McDonnell has positioned himself as a problem-solver, not an ideologue, but his willingness to sign legislation regulating abortion hasn’t endeared him to those who are moderate on social issues.

4. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

Former President George W. Bush’s little brother has been out of politics for a while—he currently works in the private sector and is an active proponent of education reform— but he’s indisputably an elder statesman in the Republican Party. With a strong record on education and immigration reform, Bush represents a moderate brand of conservatism that could appeal to swing voters and Hispanics. In a party increasingly motivated by tea party sentiments, however, Bush may be less natural a fit. He has even publicly criticized the direction the GOP is moving in.

5. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan

If GOP nominee Mitt Romney loses in 2012, his vice presidential pick is well-positioned for a run at the White House in 2016. Ryan, the policy-focused chairman of the House Budget Committee, is widely viewed by Republicans as one of the party’s best spokesmen for its legislative agenda. His vice presidential nomination ensures that he’s nationally known. The biggest downside to a Ryan bid: As a member of the House who has spent his life in Washington, Ryan has little executive or business experience. So far, however, that hasn’t slowed his rise.

6. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul

Libertarian icon Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, may have run for the presidency for the last time, but he has an heir waiting in the wings: his son, Rand. The elder Paul’s cult following showed its strength during the 2012 Republican primaries, and his minimalist-government philosophy has made its mark on mainstream Republican thought. Rand, who endorsed Romney for president in 2012, is seen as less ideologically rigid than his father, an impression that hurts the younger Paul among die-hard Ron Paul supporters but helps him garner wider GOP support.   

7. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

The young and wonky governor of Louisiana coasted to a second term last year, and 2016 might finally mark a good opportunity for Jindal to take a run at higher office. Jindal has been viewed as an up-and-coming star in the party since he won the governorship in 2007. He will serve as chairman of the Republican Governors Association next year. Jindal didn’t shy away from raising his national profile this cycle, stumping for Romney and heading to Iowa to back Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary. Jindal returned to Iowa this fall, traveling the state with former Sen. Rick Santorum in a campaign to oust a state Supreme Court judge who has supported same-sex marriage.

8. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

When Nikki Haley rode a wave of tea party support into the South Carolina governor’s mansion, she was hailed as the party’s newest breakout star. As a woman and an Indian-American, Haley represents two demographics—women and minorities—that Republicans struggled to win over in 2012. Haley’s governorship hasn’t been all smooth sailing, however; she has alienated both opponents and former supporters with her management style, The State has reported. Haley may be more well-regarded nationally than she is locally.

9. South Dakota Sen. John Thune

Rumored as a potential candidate in 2012, Thune chose instead to stay in the Senate and focus on ascending in the Republican leadership. The Senate Republican Conference chairman doesn’t have strong name recognition nationally, but he’s well-known in Washington as a legislator who has the fundraising and retail politicking skills—not to mention the good looks—of a presidential hopeful. Strong D.C. ties have their downsides; in Thune’s case, it could include his vote to bail out Wall Street in 2008.

10. Indiana Rep. Mike Pence

Pence, a six-term congressman, looks set to win the Indiana governorship on Tuesday. Some Republicans are already calling on him to consider a run for even higher office. Pence—who describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”— is well-regarded in the tea party and is an able fundraiser.

h/t: Yahoo! News

Tampa—The Republican National Convention has presented the Romney campaign with a conundrum: how to placate the religious right without alienating independents. The compromise has been giving social conservatives a handful of speeches that are in prime time for the delegates and Fox News viewers, but safely out of the 10 pm EST hour for the broadcast networks. On Tuesday night, the token social conservative slot was given to Rick Santorum. On Wednesday, it was Mike Huckabee.

But Christianists are experts at outside organizing. They played nicely with the Romney campaign in public, but they were sure to demand their pound of flesh. For weeks leading up to the RNC, the Family Research Council (FRC) blasted emails to their members informing them of the high stakes in the platform negotiations. Back in June they sent an e-mail titled “Protecting Life & Marriage—from the Republicans,” in which they asked for donations to send a larger lobbying team to the Platform Committee meetings last week. They warned that many leading Republicans were going wobbly on gay marriage. More recently, though, FRC President Tony Perkins breathed a sigh of relief over the fact that allies such as Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) were overseeing the process. And, sure enough, the platform has planks opposing marriage equality and abortion rights.

Once the actual festivities started, social conservatives kept the pressure on. On Tuesday, the FRC honored Santorum, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) and Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) for their leadership in opposing abortion rights. It cannot possibly be a coincidence that they chose to recognize three of Romney’s primary opponents, one of whom left the Senate six years ago. One interpretation would be that FRC is thanking them for pushing social issues into the campaign. Another interpretation, not mutually exclusive, is that they are implicitly drawing a contrast with Romney.

Santorum is trying to set himself up as the leader of the middle-class social conservative wing of the GOP, in opposition to Romney’s country club set. He has organized a group, called Patriot Voices, that is focused on mobilizing his supporters and like-minded voters in the Rust Belt swing states where Santorum gave Romney a tight race in the primaries.

On Wednesday afternoon Patriot Voices held a rally for a few hundred supporters. Leaders of the major social conservative organizations all came to speak and show their support. It was apparent that if Romney loses and Santorum runs again in 2016, he would receive organized social conservative support from the get-go.

At Santorum’s event, away from the official RNC podium, the religious right let loose. Gary Bauer, president of American Values, hosted. Bauer referenced the ludicrous, Islamophobic wingnut theory that Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin is a Muslim Brotherhood operative. Bauer’s theme was getting America to “come back” to its principles such as, “when American foreign policy promoted American values and interests, instead of the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood.” And, of course, Bauer invoked, “When the President knew the capital of Israel was Jerusalem.” Bauer went beyond merely opposing gay marriage to also inveigh against gay adoption. “It’s not bigotry to believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and it’s not discrimination to know a child needs a mother and a father.”

Even though he is known for his fiscal conservatism, Paul Ryan is clearly more popular than Romney among social conservatives. Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, mentioned Ryan before Romney. “Are you as excited about Paul Ryan being on this ticket as I am?” He asked to big cheers. “Ryan is a full spectrum conservative: pro-marriage, pro-life, pro-family,” Reed assured the crowd, although it seemed unnecessary. “It says a lot about Mitt Romney that he had the guts and intestinal fortitude to pick Paul Ryan,” said Reed, damning Romney—as conservatives often do—with the faint praise of being only as good as his vice-presidential pick.

In a recurring theme of the RNC, Bauer attempted to disprove the existence of the Republican War on Women with patronizing tokenism. “We’ve got more articulate women who know the issues than the other guys,” asserted Bauer.

Ted Cruz, the Republican Senate candidate in Texas, previewed a religious right effort to drive a wedge among Catholic Democrats. “The Democrats used to be proud of having nominated two Catholics for president,” said Cruz. “What would an Al Smith or Jack Kennedy think of a Democratic president who tells the Catholic Church, ‘change your beliefs of we’ll shut you down?’” Considering that Jack Kennedy’s brother Ted was a major supporter of the Affordable Care Act, to which Cruz is referring, it’s probably safe to say he would not mind.

Perkins, as he always does, argued that government can not be shrunk without a stronger family unit.

The room was filled with Santorum’s former primary supporters, and the event was, to some extent, a swan song for his campaign. When he was introduced the audience stood and cheered, and then had to stand awkwardly for several minutes as a video lionizing Santorum played before he came out.

Santorum referred back to his speech on Tuesday, in which he heavily emphasized abortion and odiously suggested that Democrats do not care for the disabled because they would allow parents to abort a future baby with a disability. After talking about his love for his developmentally disabled daughter, Bella, Santorum had said, “I thank God that America still has one party that reaches out their hands in love to lift up all of God’s children—born and unborn—and says that each of us has dignity and all of us have the right to live the American Dream.” The irony is that disability rights advocates are unified in their support for the Affordable Care Act, which Santorum would repeal. Santorum’s compassion for the disabled does not extend to making sure they can obtain healthcare. (Santorum also opposes funding the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, which protects disabled children from discrimination.)

“When I said ‘born and unborn’ last night, 51 percent of the people didn’t stand up, 95 percent of them stood up,” Santorum boasted. “We are the pro-life party. There is no division. There is no dissension.” Santorum also bragged about having helped lead opposition to ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. More than 120 countries and the entire European Union have ratified it, and it enjoys bipartisan support in the US Senate. The purpose is to assure protection from discrimination for people with disabilities in education, employment and voting. Disability rights advocates support it. But religious extremists such as Santorum worry that it could be bad for parents who home school their children. And so, thanks to Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), it has not been approved by the US Senate.

Santorum devoted less than a sentence to the importance of excluding gays and lesbians from the institution of marriage, but Huckabee gave it more attention. He also, like Reed, took up responsibility on selling Mormon Mitt to the Evangelicals. “Let me clear the air about whether guys like me would only support an evangelical,” said Huckabee. “Of the four people on the two tickets, the only self-professed evangelical is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb or even beyond the womb, and tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls healthcare… I care far less as to where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do about where he takes this country.”

h/t: Ben Adler at The Nation

Here is my recap of the RNC for the 1st night.

Afternoon Session:

Evening Session:

Worst Persons: B: Ann Romney. S: Chris Christie. G: Nikki Haley

The official 2012 Republican Party platform is a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.  If moderates have any influence in today’s Republican Party, you wouldn’t know it by reading the platform.  Efforts by a few delegates to insert language favoring civil unions, comprehensive sex education, and voting rights for the District of Columbia, for example, were all shot down.  Making the rounds of right-wing pre-convention events on Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann gushed about the platform’s right-wing tilt, telling fired-up Tea Partiers that “the Tea Party has been all over that platform.”

1. Bob McDonnell.   As platform committee chair, McDonnell made it clear he was not in the mood for any amendments to the draft language calling for a “Human Life Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution and legal recognition that the “unborn” are covered by the Fourteenth Amendment – “personhood” by another name.  McDonnell is in many ways the ideal right-wing governor: he ran as a fiscal conservative and governs like the Religious Right activist he has been since he laid out his own political platform in the guise of a master’s thesis at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. 
His thesis argued that feminists and working women were detrimental to the family, and that public policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals, or fornicators.” 
2 Tony Perkins.  Perkins heads the Family Research Council, whose Values Voter Summit is the Religious Right’s most important annual conference, at which movement activists rub shoulders with Republican officials and candidates.  Perkins bragged in an email to his supporters how much influence he and his friend David Barton (see below) had on the platform.  Perkins was an active member of the platform committee, proposing language to oppose school-based health clinics that provide referrals for contraception or abortion, and arguing for the strongest possible anti-marriage equality language.  Perkins also introduced an amendment to the platform calling on the District of Columbia government to loosen its gun laws, which Perkins says still do not comply with recent Supreme Court rulings.
The media tends to treat Perkins, a telegenic former state legislator, as a reasonable voice of the Religious Right, but his record and his group’s positions prove otherwise.  Perkins has been aggressivelyexploiting the recent shooting at FRC headquarters to divert attention from the group’s extremism by claiming that the Southern Poverty Law Center was irresponsible in calling FRC a hate group.  Unfortunately for Perkins, the group’s record of promoting hatred toward LGBT people is well documented.  Perkins has even complained that the press and President Obama were being too hard on Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” bill, which he described as an attempt to “uphold moral conduct.” It’s worth remembering that Perkins ran a 1996 campaign for Louisiana Senate candidate Woody Jenkins that paid $82,600 to David Duke for the Klan leader’s mailing list; the campaign was fined by the FEC for trying to cover it up.
3. David Barton.  Texas Republican activist and disgraced Christian-nation “historian” Barton has had a tough year, but Tampa has been good to him.  He was perhaps the most vocal member of the platform committee, and was a featured speaker at Sunday’s pre-convention “prayer rally.” During the platform committee’s final deliberations, Barton couldn’t seem to hear his own voice often enough.  He was the know-it-all nitpicker, piping up with various language changes, such as deleting a reference to the family as the “school of democracy” because families are not democracies.  He thought it was too passive to call Obamacare an “erosion of” the Constitution and thought it should be changed to an “attack on” the founding document.  He called for stronger anti-public education language and asserted that large school districts employ one administrator for every teacher.  He backed anti-abortion language, tossing out the claim that 127 medical studies over five decades say that abortion hurts women.  Progressives have been documenting Barton’s lies for years, but more recently conservative evangelical scholars have also been hammering  his claims about American history.
4. Kris Kobach.  Kris Kobach wants to be your president one day; until now, he has gotten as far as Kansas Secretary of State.  He may be best known as the brains behind Arizona’s “show me your papers” law, and he successfully pushed for anti-immigrant language in the platform, including a call for the federal government to deny funds to universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition – a plank that puts Kobach and the platform at odds with Kansas law.  Immigration is not Kobach’s only issue. He is an energizing force behind the Republican Party’s massive push for voter suppression laws around the country, and he led the effort to get language inserted into the platform calling on states to pass laws requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration.  He also pushed language aimed at the supposed threat to the Constitution and laws of the US from “Sharia law”; getting this language into the platform puts the GOP in position of endorsing a ludicrous far-right conspiracy theory.  Kobach hopes that will give activists a tool for pressuring more states to pass their own anti-Sharia laws.  In the platform committee, he backed Perkins’ efforts to maintain the strongest language against marriage equality.  Even an amendment to the marriage section saying that everyone should be treated “equally under the law” as long as they are not hurting anyone else, was shot down by Kobach.  Kobach alsoclaims he won support for a provision to oppose any effort to limit how many bullets can go into a gun’s magazine.
5. James Bopp.  James Bopp is a Republican lawyer and delegate from Indiana whose client list is a Who’s Who of right-wing organizations, including National Right to Life and the National Organization for Marriage, which he has represented in its efforts to keep political donors secret. 
Bopp is also an annoyingly petty partisan, having introduced a resolution in the Republican National Committee in 2009 urging the Democratic Party to change its name to the “Democrat Socialist Party.” 
6. Dick Armey.  Former Republican insider Dick Armey now runs FreedomWorks, the Koch-backed,corporate-fundedMurdoch-promoted Tea Party astroturfing group – or, in their words, a “grassroots service center.” Armey has been a major force behind this year’s victories of Tea Party Senate challengers like Ted Cruz in Texas and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, both of whom knocked off “establishment” candidates – FreedomWorks also backed Rand Paul in Kentucky and Mike Lee in Utah in 2010.  As Alternet’s Adele Stan has reported, FreedomWorks’s goal is to build a cadre of far-right senators to create a “power center around Jim DeMint,” the Senate’s reigning Tea Party-Religious Right hero. 
To put Armey’s stamp on the platform, FreedomWorks created a “Freedom Platform” project, which enlisted Tea Party leaders to come up with proposed platform planks and encouraged activists to vote for them online. Then FreedomWorks pushed the party to include these planks in the official platform:
      Repeal Obamacare; Pursue Patient-Centered Care
      Stop the Tax Hikes
      Reverse Obama’s Spending Increases
      Scrap the Code; Replace It with a Flat Tax
      Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment
      Reject Cap and Trade
      Rein in the EPA
      Unleash America’s Vast Energy Potential
      Eliminate the Department of Education
      Reduce the Bloated Federal Workforce
      Curtail Excessive Federal Regulation
      Audit the Fed
An Ohio Tea Party Group, The Ohio Liberty Coalition, celebrated that 10 of 12 made it to the draft – everything but the flat tax and eliminating the department of Defense.  But FreedomWorks gave itself a more generous score, arguing for an 11.5 out of 12. 

On the Sunday talk shows, Republicans expressed outrage over Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) unsubstantiated claim that Mitt Romney has not paid taxes in 10 years, flatly accusing the Senate majority leader of lying.

On ABC’s “This Week,” an incensed Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a “dirty liar,” saying he “complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz Carlton here down the street.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Reid’s accusation “is so out of bounds.”

“I think he’s lying about his statement — knowing something about Romney’s [taxes],” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think he’s created an issue here. I think he’s making things up at a time when the country is just about to fall apart.”

On CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Virginia’s Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell called Reid’s charge “reckless and slanderous.”

Reid initially lobbed the claim in an interview with the Huffington Post published Tuesday, saying an unnamed investor to Bain Capitol told him Romney “didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years.” He has since repeated the charge, including on the Senate floor, and emphatically vouched for the credibility of his source.

Top Obama campaign officials declined to repudiate Reid’s claims, and instead called on Romney to release the 23 years of tax returns that he privately provided John McCain’s 2008 campaign during its search for a vice presidential nominee.

H/T: Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo

As the National Governors Association conference kicks off Friday, the nation’s Democratic governors are attacking what they say are lies being told by three current Republican governors — and Sarah Palin — regarding the Affordable Care Act.

The Democratic Governors Association released a web video Friday morning featuring the four GOP leaders discussing health care with DGA captions from political fact checking organizations. The NGA is expected to take up health care reform at the state level during a committee meeting Saturday morning in Williamsburg, Va.

The video includes a recent appearance by Palin on Fox News discussing the Supreme Court’s ruling , with the former Alaska governor elaborating on what she believes are “death panels” empowered by the law. The DGA includes a caption from PolitiFact calling “death panels” the “Lie of the Year” in 2009 and notes that Palin’s clip was recent.

H/T: John Celock at the Huffington Post

You have to sort of feel bad for Bob McDonnell. Coming up through the ranks of the Virginia Republican Party, it was never a liability that he took the most reflexively right wing position on social issues. And yet he now may be denied the prize he has desperately sought, the Republican vice-presidential nomination, because of his anti-women’s rights extremism. 

McDonnell was elected Governor of the mid-sized swing state next to the nation’s capitol in 2009 and he was pegged as a future leader of the GOP. Just months after he won the gubernatorial race over Democrat Terry McAuliffe he was selected to deliver the Republicans’ official response to President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union. Like most responses to the State of the Union it wasn’t very memorable, but he managed not to embarrass himself and damage his national prospects in the way that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal did in 2009.

McDonnell was primed to be a top contender for the vice-presidential slot. He is known in his state as a canny political operator and his Southern accent lends folksiness to an affable but otherwise slightly staid speaking style. Unlike some other potential vice-presidential prospects—Jindal, for example, Rick Perry—McDonnell endorse Mitt Romney and campaigned with him in early primary states such as South Carolina.

Among ardent conservatives, McDonnell’s star has continued to rise. On Friday he gave the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago, which The Atlantic’s Molly Ball writes, “served as a cattle call of sorts for a handful of potential vice-presidential contenders from across the country.” Unlike many speakers McDonnell made a full surrogate’s case for Romney. He also has the virtue of being gray enough that, unlike, say, Chris Christie, he won’t generate too much excitement among the right wing base and outshine the top of the ticket as Sarah Palin did to John McCain. “If the veepstakes are indeed to be a competition to be the most inoffensive possible choice, McDonnell ought to be in the running,” Ball concludes.

Rather, he got boxed in by his own party’s extremism. “One of the main reasons he’s been successful in Virginia is he’s come across as someone who has mostly gone after pragmatic goals,” says Geoff Skelley, political analyst at University of Virginia Center for Politics. “Of course, that’s changed in the last few months.” Skelley is referring to the new law in Virginia that will infantilize adult women by making them submit to a medically unnecessary ultrasound examination before getting an abortion. The bill triggered national outrage before McDonnell signed it into law and, as Skelley notes, “it would be brought up a lot if he was chosen for vice-president.” Given Romney’s and the Republican Party’s problems attracting women voters, that is the last thing they need.

A Catholic, McDonnell attended parochial schools, Notre Dame University and Pat Robertson’s Regent University for Law School. At the time McDonnell attended Regent it was known as the Christian Broadcasting School of Law. It is so intensely theological that it is considered a politically risky statement for a presidential to merely speak there, as Mitt Romney recently did. As part of his master’s thesis, The Washington Post reported in 2009, “[McDonnell] described working women and feminists as ‘detrimental’ to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over ‘cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.’ He described as ‘illogical’ a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.”

But when running for governor McDonnell emphasized his fiscal rather than social conservatism. As Governor he has pursued the same failed policies of social disinvestment that Romney champions. “Economically he’s been a mainline Tea Party right wing Republican,” says Brian Coy, communications director for the Virginia Democratic Part. “He is staunchly anti-tax, anti-investment. He had four years to solve our transportation crisis: we need a sustained dedicated source of revenue and he hasn’t even proposed a solution. He just suggested borrowing $3 billion to build some roads. That won’t even meet our needs, and we’ll be paying it off for 25 years.” McDonnell has also failed to continue Gov. Tim Kaine’s efforts to extend the Washington, D.C. Metro system further in the suburbs in Northern Virginia. Rather than ameliorating traffic clogged roads, aid economic growth, or do anything good for the environment, McDonnell is sitting on his hands.

h/t: Ben Adler at The Nation

WASHINGTON — If Haley Barbour advised Mitt Romney about whom to pick for his running mate, the former Mississippi governor might repeat something he said in a book about his home state’s politics: “Never make a political decision until you have to, for things could always change.”

Romney’s search for a running mate will be guided by a few factors, and the individual qualities and resumes of each potential pick will play an important role. But there will be another significant element: the situational dynamics of the presidential election four months from now, when the GOP convention in Tampa begins on Aug. 27.

The safer picks are all white men: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The riskier picks are almost all women or minorities who are rising stars in the Republican Party but with less experience in national politics than a Portman or Daniels: This set includes Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Two white men are on the riskier list: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose weakness is that he might be so charismatic that he would outshine Romney, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, whose budget plan is lauded by many conservatives but tough to defend in political sound-bite combat.

Here are the pros and cons for each choice:

Pros: He is a 56-year-old former White House budget director (from 2006 to 2007) and successful member of Congress who remained popular with constituents during seven terms from 1993 to 2005. He also served as a U.S. trade representative to boot. Portman has a strong political network in Ohio, which again will be one of the most crucial battleground states in the election. And he is well-known for his keen mind and firm grasp of a broad range of policy issues. He served in George H.W. Bush’s White House as well, so he knows how both the executive and legislative branches work.

Cons: Portman’s stint as budget director under George W. Bush would open a door for Democrats to use one of their favorite attacks: Bush inherited a budget surplus from Democratic President Bill Clinton and handed a more than $400 billion budget deficit to Obama. On a more superficial level, while Portman is friendly with many in the press, he does not bring any extra charisma or excitement to the ticket. In many conservative’s eyes, Portman’s current position as a legislator instead of an executive (such as governor) is also a minor strike against him.

Pros: Rubio, 41, is a rock star. He’s young, good-looking, well-spoken and a Latino. He’s from the must-win state of Florida. What’s not to like?

Cons: He’s young and only in his second year as a senator. He would also be certain to attract a high level of scrutiny to his past, especially about whether he tweaked his family’s story of leaving Cuba to make it more dramatic and if he used a credit card issued by the Republican Party to buy personal items while a state legislator. Rubio has been the most Shermanesque of all the potential VP picks in his promises to refuse any request to consider the job.

Pros: Christie, 49, is as outsized a personality as there is in modern American politics. He loves the spotlight. He talks straighter than blunt. Some might call his a smash mouth. And voters love him. After three years as chief executive, his approval rating in New Jersey, a Democratic stronghold, is at an all-time high. He has balanced budgets in the face of huge projected deficits without raising taxes and has achieved significant reforms in the state’s pension system for government workers.

Cons: He might love the spotlight a little too much for Mitt Romney’s liking. He and Romney are worlds apart in terms of personal style. It would be a lot to expect him to hang back and play second fiddle. In addition, having two candidates from the Northeast limits the ticket’s geographical appeal and its ability to win over rural voters. His weight is also a factor.

Pros: Like Portman, Daniels, 63, is also a former White House budget director. He served in that post from 2001 to 2003 and then went on to become governor, now in his second term. Like Christie, he has imposed conservative reforms as governor in budget spending, taxation and state worker salaries and benefits as well as health care. He is one of the most articulate Republicans in discussing the national debt. Also like Christie, Daniels had been wooed intensely by Republican insiders and voters to run in the primary against Romney but refused.

Cons: While Daniels served as George W. Bush’s budget director, a surplus turned to a deficit under his watch, thanks in large part to a major recession caused by the September 11 attacks and major tax cuts that Bush pushed through. Daniels did not run for president because his wife and daughters (or at least some of them) didn’t want him to. It’s not clear whether he’ll even agree to being vetted for VP by the Romney campaign for the same reasons. He also lacks the electrifying presence of a Christie or Rubio. His personality is low-key and droll. His tenure as an executive at drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. in the 1990s would be closely examined.

Pros: Jindal is another governor who has accomplished a lot that will appeal to conservatives — cutting taxes and spending — and taking on teachers’ and state employee unions. And at 40 years old, the former Rhodes scholar is younger than other potential picks. He was re-elected in a landslide last fall and just succeeded in engineering the passage of a sweeping education reform plan by the GOP-controlled legislature. He is now taking on the challenge of trying to curb state worker pensions, though that is proving to be a tougher slog. Jindal is a former congressman (from 2005 to 2008) who in the 1990s ran Louisiana’s health and hospitals system and then its university system. He is the son of immigrant parents who came to the States from Punjab, India, six months before he was born.

Cons: He is known nationally mostly for his widely panned 2009 speech giving the official Republican response to President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address. He is not seen as a particularly inspiring figure. His state, Louisiana, is already considered sure win for Romney. And there are two minor hurdles for him to surmount: First, Jindal endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the primary. After Perry dropped out, Jindal declined to endorse anyone else. And second, Jindal’s Washington-based consultant, Curt Anderson, is not on the best terms with Stuart Stevens, the top strategist on Romney’s campaign.

Pros: The 42-year-old House budget chairman is a numbers-and-policy ace. He runs through the intricacies of Medicare, Social Security and budgets with the efficiency of a machine. And despite initial resistance a few years ago from many in the GOP, his detailed plan to overhaul federal spending and entitlement programs — the biggest drivers of the nation’s long-term debt –- has become essentially the party’s platform. On a few occasions, he has taken on President Obama directly and more than held his own in policy debates. Being tall and good-looking doesn’t hurt him. And Wisconsin is a swing state.

Cons: Ryan’s “Road Map” may be accepted by the GOP as its best attempt to fix some of the nation’s most vexing problems: the budget deficit and national debt. But that doesn’t mean Romney and many Republicans want to make that a central issue in the race this fall. They want the economy — and Obama’s handling of it — to be the focus. A concern is that putting Ryan on the ticket could make a plan that hasn’t yet been enacted into law the central focus — instead of what Republicans view as mistakes made by the incumbent president. This is the reason Ryan is a highly unlikely pick.

Pros: Pawlenty, 51, suffered a political bruising during his time as a candidate in the primary but has emerged as a trusted adviser to Romney after he endorsed him. The personal connection between the two men should not be underestimated. Pawlenty also has an ability to connect with blue-collar voters that Romney does not. And there would be few doubts about Pawlenty’s trustworthiness or loyalty.

Cons: He offers little heft to the equation in terms of geographic advantage, in that he is from Minnesota (which is not a swing state) and showed no distinct ability to excite any passion or confidence among voters during his primary run.

Pros: McDonnell, 57, is governor of a key battleground state and he looks the part of vice president. He’s eloquent and smart enough. He gets along with people well and seems like a natural fit for Romney. After Portman, there seems to be no other potential VP pick who is a better match for Romney when it comes to pure compatibility.

Cons: McDonnell doesn’t stand out. He has not distinguished himself with any particular accomplishment or stylistic trademark. His handling of a bill requiring an ultrasound before a woman obtains an abortion was widely perceived as shaky. He first supported a transvaginal procedure before backing away from this stance and saying only an abdominal, noninvasive ultrasound should be mandated. 

Pros: The 52-year-old Texas native and granddaughter of Mexican immigrants has an inspiring, up-from-the-bootstraps personal story. The former district attorney is the first Latina to become governor in the history of the United States. She is also the head of state in a Democratic-leaning state that is nonetheless considered by some to be a swing state. Her two years in office so far have gone reasonably well.

Cons: Not much is known about Martinez. She has vowed she would turn down an offer to be considered for the vice presidential spot. And she is likely not seasoned enough to step into the vice presidential role.

Pros: Santorum, 53, became a hero to many conservative Republicans with his insurgent campaign for the GOP nomination, which went further than anybody ever expected. Santorum showed a talent for grassroots campaigning (that Pennsylvania campaign watchers already knew about) and a knack for articulating a conservative message that connects with voters in a way Romney never has had. He’s also from a swing state, though Pennsylvania has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since it went for George H. W. Bush in 1988.

Cons: Santorum waged a fierce and sometimes bitter battle with Romney in the primary. It’s not yet clear how much the fences between the two have been mended. Santorum is holding off on endorsing Romney, waiting until he can meet with the presumptive nominee and press him to hold fast to conservative principles on key issues. How that meeting goes will likely dictate whether Santorum is even in the running for the VP spot. But Santorum’s lack of message discipline and penchant for veering into social issues are likely to be turnoffs for the Romney campaign.

Pros: The 40-year-old governor of South Carolina is a talented, dynamic and charismatic political figure. She’s the youngest governor in the country. Haley is another player among the bumper crop of young, minority stars rising in the Republican Party. She is the daughter of Sikh immigrants from India.

Cons: Haley is struggling as governor. Her approval rating is in the 30s range. Her endorsement of Romney before the Palmetto State’s January primary failed to help him beat back Newt Gingrich, who won convincingly. And she is probably too inexperienced.

Pros: The former governor turned Fox News personality won Iowa during his 2008 presidential bid and attracted the same evangelical voting bloc that went for Santorum this year. The 56-year-old remains a hero to many conservatives. His name recognition is substantial, since he has been on national television regularly during prime time most weekends for the last three and a half years. He has an ability to present conservative positions in ways that are more winsome than is true for many other Republicans.

Cons: Huckabee is taken more seriously as a cultural force than as a political figure. And like Santorum, he would bring rightward drift to the ticket at a time when the Romney campaign is counting on the Republican base remaining steadfast (because of the party’s intense opposition to Obama) and is focused instead on winning over independents and moderates.

H/T: Jon Ward at Huffington Post