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Posted at 2:51 PM ET, 11/11/2010

McDonnell's stance: I need more experience, but Palin doesn't

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is smart enough to know that a 2012 presidential bid would constitute a premature reach beyond his experience level. So why did he tell MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday that Sarah Palin has enough experience for the job?

"Listen, I think Sarah Palin's been a mayor, she's been governor of a state. I happen to be a little partial and think governors make great chief executive officers and have the experience to be good chief executive officers of the United States,'' McDonnell said. "I think Sarah Palin is qualified."

Speculation about McDonnell's chances to one day win the White House began rippling across the country the day he was elected. A few weeks ago, he finally ruled out a run in two years, while leaving open the door for 2016. He responds to questions about his political future with a demure assurance that Virginia is his world right now and that he intends to keep it that way through the remainder of his term.

And yet he thinks (or at least says) that a governor who quit her only term halfway in has stored up enough tokens to cash in for the presidency.

Really? Let's do a quick comparison: McDonnell has held elected office for 18 years -- 14 as a state delegate, three as Virginia attorney general and now one as governor. Palin held elected office for 12.5 years -- four years on the Wasilla, Alaska, city council, six years as mayor and two-and-a-half years as governor.

The gap widens when you compare state to local experience: McDonnell has spent his entire public career dealing with statewide issues, while Palin has only her partial term as governor and a year as chairperson of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. And while McDonnell also quit during a term (as AG), it wasn't so he could make more money by traveling around the country complaining about the media.

Perhaps McDonnell hopes that Palin self-destructs this time around so she's out of the way four years later. And if she ruins the GOP's chances of winning back the White House in 2012, so much better his chances in 2016.

Or maybe Mr. Nice Guy feels bad for distancing himself from her last year. The Palin story was that she was invited and then uninvited from McDonnell's campaign -- as he was trying to look more like a moderate, many said. McDonnell's version was that Palin was too busy promoting her book "Going Rogue."

However it played out, it's not like McDonnell owes much of anything to Palin. The only Virginia Republican she endorsed in the recent election was the one who lost a winnable race (Keith Fimian). And she didn't show up to campaign for anyone.

Of course, after McDonnell gave Palin his semi-vote of confidence, he quickly added that there are 10 or so Republicans who could run for president, and he'll make the decision whom he supports "down the road." By the time he gets there, his gubernatorial experience may well have surpassed Palin's.

Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | November 11, 2010; 2:51 PM ET
Categories:  Local blog network, My Endorsement, Va. Politics, Virginia  
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I'm no big fan of McDonnell, but his comments seems like smart politics for a conservative republican these days. A lot can happen between now and then.

Posted by: krickey7 | November 11, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Do Governors who quit make good Presidents? Doubt it. McDonnell just made a bigger fool of himself. Too scared, and kowtowing, of Palin to tell the truth.

Posted by: jckdoors | November 11, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Just another nutless Republican male scared to death of Sarah Palin.

Posted by: Observer691 | November 16, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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