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What to watch for in McDonnell's response to Obama

By Lee Hockstader

Mild-mannered Bob McDonnell, the newly installed GOP governor of Virginia who went out of his way to praise President Obama during his successful campaign last fall, has been cast in the role of Republican superstar, a savior rivaled at the moment only by Massachusetts Sen.-elect Scott Brown. Hand-picked to deliver the GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight, McDonnell -- telegenic, affable, focused, and conservative -- is, at least for now, an unblemished commodity in his party.

Gov. McDonnell
Bob McDonnell, who has praised President Obama in the past, will deliver the GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address. (Photo - Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

So how will he craft a speech, his 15 minutes of fame, that manages at once to seem constructive, to introduce himself to the American people, and to gloss over the fissures in his own party?

It’ll be a tricky balancing act.

Still, he managed something along those lines in his race last fall, playing down a 20-year-old thesis, written while he was a 34-year-old graduate student at Pat Robertson’s law school, that was intolerant of working women, homosexuals and others, in favor of a consistent message that emphasized jobs, jobs and jobs. Nothing objectionable there.

A few on the GOP’s hard-right fringe griped that McDonnell didn’t press the right buttons frequently enough on abortion, states’ rights, guns and other red-meat issues. But they came out for McDonnell anyway, and in a recession, his drumbeat on jobs worked to convince moderate and swing voters that he would put the state’s best interests ahead of ideology.

Look for McDonnell to hit the jobs theme again tonight, with bows to the private sector, limited government and America’s men and women in uniform. (McDonnell’s daughter served an Army tour in Iraq.) Look for him to zing Obama just enough that he will generate some presidential buzz for himself (McDonnell in 2016?) while maintaining the calm, reasoned, even-keeled tone and seeming pragmatism that appealed to Virginia’s centrist voters.

And then look to him to skedaddle back to Richmond, where so far he has artfully avoided telling Virginians how he intends to close a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the state budget.

By Lee Hockstader  | January 27, 2010; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Hockstader  | Tags:  Lee Hockstader  
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Comments

Not bad for a guy savaged by Hockstader, Kumar, the other one, and their NOW buddies.

Posted by: hz9604 | January 27, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

a guy who tried to convince me to vote for him for AG when he knew I lived out of state...and that "he didn't care" that I lived out of state. That is a quality man.

Posted by: laajbi | January 27, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully you still live out of state.

Posted by: hz9604 | January 27, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

"....an unblemished commodity in his party." ???

Robertson's protege? Did you read his Masters thesis?

Posted by: coloradodog | January 27, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

..."he has artfully avoided telling Virginians how he intends to close a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the state budget.


I wonder what else he avoided telling us during the election.

Posted by: kparc | January 27, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

..."he has artfully avoided telling Virginians how he intends to close a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the state budget.


I wonder what else he avoided telling us during the election.

Posted by: kparc | January 27, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

What to watch for in the Republican response?
The usual, tedious lies about the Democrats and the President, calls for tax cuts for businesses and the rich, hypocritical statements of patriotism and how great the American people are, if only our government would get out of the way and total partisan obstructionism. So what else is new?

Posted by: ejs2 | January 27, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a 24-carat phony, and the quintessential 21st-century GOP candidate: right-wing to the core, fraudulently disguised as a moderate, with no real platform beyond "no taxes, no taxes, no taxes" and saying what's necessary to get elected. He got elected, in part, by taking potshots at Deeds's transportation plan, and after he's sworn in, poof! he doesn't even HAVE a plan. It'll be interesting to see how he closes a $4.2 billion budget gap with only spending cuts. If I didn't live here it would be fun to watch, but I do, so it's really, really scary.

Posted by: jac13 | January 27, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

And then look to him to skedaddle back to Richmond, where so far he has artfully avoided telling Virginians how he intends to close a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the state budget.
-----------------------------------
Could have told you that was what he was going to do after he was elected. All he did was put up a bunch of signs saying 'Bob's for Jobs' without any plan and people, stupidly, fell for it...
I just hope he puts on a Bobby Jindal performance tonight. Then his career will be over.. (like it should be.. This guy is a tool...)

Posted by: phorse | January 27, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

How about a nice Pat Robertson impression?!

Posted by: free-donny | January 27, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

He'll most likely say we need more GOP'ers like O'Keefe,

Posted by: ohwell | January 27, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I am sure McDonnell will explain his great economic plan for VA: Sell the ABC stores, but do not replace the revenue they now generate (I know he will not explain what happens the second year, since you can only sell the stores once); Next issue lisences for off-shore drilling. These should generate tremendous revenue, despite the fact that 85% of the lisences isseued since 1991 have not yet been exercised.

Yes indeed. I expect the plan to be about as successful as Gilmore's. (PS: When Gilmore ran for Senator, he got maybe 35% of the vote, correct?)

Posted by: AMviennaVA | January 27, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

..."Givem hell Mr. President, Republicans RECORD/MESS/CRIMINAL/FACT...Hammer them over it."

I'd like to see the President come out swinging at Republicans, swinging at the media, and swinging at the American people who still don't get it!

"Still don't get who put them in this MESS, still don't get it, that it was the Republicans who lost 8 MILLION JOBS! Remind them again who still don't get it was Republicans who left office with the lowest job approval rating in the history of the United States Presidency, 20%!

American's still don't get it, this MESS We are in is a Republican record/MESS they left, as well as leaving you/America a record debt of $1.5 Trillion dollars, I remind them all the way through the speech, as American's still don't get it!

America I say must be told, that you can't turn a Republican MESS AROUND IN ONE YEAR WHAT TOOK EIGHT YEARS TO CREATE!

That's what I'd like to see, then hear what he has to say about laying out his agenda,goals for this year!

I'd also like to see President Barack answer Joe Wilson by telling him in front of all the people "HE LIED" before President leaves the podium..."Point directly to JOE WILSON and Say/YOU...LIED...and the record is proof of the MESS he's trying to clean up, then I'd love to see him leave...

As a registered Voter/VET USAF, I'd hammer the Republicans while reminding the American people who it was that made the MESS and explain to them you can't create 8 MILLION JOBS in one year what took the Republicans eight years to lose!

Sincerely, Tommy Birchfield, Graduate Student, Masters Program,
East Tennessee State University/Class,
2010.

Posted by: ztcb41 | January 27, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

He won't raise taxes. There's nothing left in the budget to cut. The cars aren't moving. The universities are starving.

McDonnell will have just about the same amount of luck as Gilmore did when he finishes his four years. He won't make Senator, much less President.

Posted by: st50taw | January 27, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

How did Hockstader get a job? This was awful.

Posted by: wisemen | January 27, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Boy...the NOW babes are apparently back.

Posted by: hz9604 | January 27, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Bob McDonnell – Leading The GOP Forward Tonight

http://projectvirginia.com/virginia-politics-2010/bob-mcdonnell-leading-the-gop-forward-tonight/

The voters chose you to lead Virginia last November and the Republicans have chosen you to represent them tonight because you demonstrated you can communicate your principles and win. Americans have tired of the bickering and inaction in Washington. They seek positive, productive policy proposals. They want leadership, not complaints; optimism, not tired, divisive rhetoric. They’re asking for prudence and responsibility, not extravagance. They no longer will stand to be sliced and diced by race, creed or income level for electoral advantage.

Posted by: chrisw2 | January 27, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"Still, he managed something along those lines in his race last fall, playing down a 20-year-old thesis, written while he was a 34-year-old graduate student at Pat Robertson’s law school, that was intolerant of working women, homosexuals and others, in favor of a consistent message that emphasized jobs, jobs and jobs."
*************************

He played it down in VA, for a local race. He'd never make it out of a GOP primary with that background. Especially since he'll have a demonstrated track record of failure on jobs, jobs, jobs by 2012.

This is not a national candidate for the GOP.

Posted by: abqcleve | January 27, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

What to watch for in the GOP response? The usual idiocy: cut taxes, small government, freeze spending, bomb Iran, yadda, yadda... As for McDonnell, he got his law degree from Robertson's Liberty University, i.e., the bottom of the academic barrel, so he's just a right-wing crackpot who successfully duped enough Virginians by hiding his demented views, and got himself elected. Yawn!

Posted by: Gatsby10 | January 27, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Bob McDonnell is an empty suit. He represents the business friendly no new taxes politicians that have bankrupted Virginia. Anything he might say tonight will not waiver from basic Grover Norquist philosophy with lots of editing by Pat Robertson.

Posted by: fabricmaven1 | January 27, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Again with the Master's thesis, huh WaPO? Bob won. Give the O-Man the same treatment and call me in the morning. But, only if you're able to find somebody that knew while at Columbia.

Posted by: TheDubb | January 27, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a 24-carat phony, and the quintessential 21st-century GOP candidate: right-wing to the core, fraudulently disguised as a moderate, with no real platform beyond "no taxes, no taxes, no taxes" and saying what's necessary to get elected.
___________________________

As opposed to Obama, who turned out to be left-wing to the core, fraudulently disguised as a moderate, with no real platform beyond his own soaring rhetoric that we are the change we need, and saying what's necessary to get elected?

Posted by: JoeSchmoe06 | January 27, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

McConnell is one of the worst corporatists in Congress. He wants to see himself get paid alot of money from the bribes he takes from his corporate friends and anything that threatens that payday, he is against. McConnell is a traitor to the avg person. From his support of deregulation to campiagn finance. He is one of the worst pieces of crap in Congress.

Posted by: dwdave67 | January 27, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

..."Givem hell Mr. President, Republicans RECORD/MESS/CRIMINAL/FACT...Hammer them over it."

I'd like to see the President come out swinging at Republicans, swinging at the media, and swinging at the American people who still don't get it!

"Still don't get who put them in this MESS, still don't get it, that it was the Republicans who lost 8 MILLION JOBS! Remind them again who still don't get it was Republicans who left office with the lowest job approval rating in the history of the United States Presidency, 20%!

American's still don't get it, this MESS We are in is a Republican record/MESS they left, as well as leaving you/America a record debt of $1.5 Trillion dollars, I remind them all the way through the speech, as American's still don't get it!

America I say must be told, that you can't turn a Republican MESS AROUND IN ONE YEAR WHAT TOOK EIGHT YEARS TO CREATE!

That's what I'd like to see, then hear what he has to say about laying out his agenda,goals for this year!

I'd also like to see President Barack answer Joe Wilson by telling him in front of all the people "HE LIED" before President leaves the podium..."Point directly to JOE WILSON and Say/YOU...LIED...and the record is proof of the MESS he's trying to clean up, then I'd love to see him leave...

As a registered Voter/VET USAF, I'd hammer the Republicans while reminding the American people who it was that made the MESS and explain to them you can't create 8 MILLION JOBS in one year what took the Republicans eight years to lose!

Sincerely, Tommy Birchfield, Graduate Student, Masters Program,
East Tennessee State University/Class,
2010.

Posted by: ztcb41 | January 27, 2010 2:59 PM
=========================
Don't worry. Chances are once you are in the real world you'll find out how much of a fairy tale democratic ideals really are.

I feel sorry for people like you who absorb propaganda without questioning it.

Hopefully the point of education gets through to you to think for yourself.

Posted by: Cryos | January 27, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

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