Updated: McDonnell stops by CPAC; Cantor, Gilmore, Cuccinelli to speak at conference
Updated: 4:51 p.m. We have just learned that McDonnell has stopped by CPAC to shake hands and conduct some radio interviews. We're told he took the stage for a impromptu two-minute speech.
Gov. Bob McDonnell may be skipping the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this weekend, but Virginia will be well represented at the gathering, which often provides a stage for presidential hopefuls.
U.S. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor will be there. So will former governor Jim Gilmore. And Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
This morning, Cantor and Cuccinelli will speak on a panel, "Saving Freedom: It's About Jobs, Stupid!" A few hours later, it's Gilmore's turn. The new president of the conservative Free Congress Foundation's topic is "Does Security Trump Freedom?"
So why is McDonnell skipping the event?
Spokeswoman Stacey Johnson says the governor plans to stay in Richmond for the weekend while the House and Senate prepare to release their versions of the budget Sunday afternoon.
McDonnell will attend National Governors Association and Republican Governors Association conferences in Washington today, along with a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, but be back tomorrow. He will return to Washington Sunday for a black-tie dinner at the White House with the nation's other governors and their spouses. On Monday, the governors will meet with Obama and his Cabinet at the White House.
McDonnell has been a much sought-after speaker since winning his landslide election in November. Phil Cox, senior adviser to the governor and director of his political action committee, Opportunity Virginia, said McDonnell has been invited to dozens of political events across the state and nation, including the Iowa state spring dinner, but that he has turned them down because he wants to concentrate on being governor. One of the few exceptions, of course, was delivering the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address last month.
February 19, 2010; 9:11 AM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , Eric Cantor , James Gilmore III , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell
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