WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell steps through a spotlight while delivering remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Marriott Wardman Park February 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. Thousands of conservative activists are attending the annual gathering in the nation's capital. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, one of Mitt Romney's highest-value backers, juiced up the CPAC crowd early Friday in advance of the GOP frontrunner's speech to the group, lauding Romney as a "responsible" and "consistent" conservative.
"I believe he's the results-oriented conservative," McDonnell said to some applause in the ballroom, which was filling to the gills largely in anticipation of the next speaker, Rick Santorum.
"He's the guy, whether it's been as governor of Massachusetts, as head of a large private sector company, in turning around the Olympics, he's the results-oriented, can-do, consistent conservative," McDonnell said of Romney.
Listing his candidate's job-creation record, McDonnell added, "That's, to me, the kind of can-do responsible conservative leadership that we need for the United States of America."
McDonnell's direct reference to his endorsee contrasted with yesterday's omission by former presidential candidates Herman Cain and Rick Perry -- both of whom neglected to mention their support for Newt Gingrich in their addresses to the crowd.
The popular Virginia governor, who is widely discussed as a vice presidential pick, also offered details about his biography, including his 21 years in the United States Army.
And in a shot at Rick Santorum, he spoke emotionally about his daughter, an Army platoon leader who McDonnell said would call him from Iraq with tales of being under fire from the enemy.
"Yes I did get a little bit emotional. But she didn't," he said. "She got the job done."
He largely veered away from social issues but slammed the president for failing to balance the budget.
"I say Mr. President, take responsibility. You're the commander in chief, get the job done, quit making excuses, let's turn this country around," he said.
He also offered shoutouts to a list of fellow Republican governors who enjoy popularity among conservative voters despite flagging overall approval ratings, including Govs. Scott Walker and Rick Scott.
Carrie Dann writes for NBC News' First Read. Read the national edition of First Read featuring Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro on msnbc.com.