Governor Says State Tour Isn’t About Repairing Image

Governor Bob McDonnell's seven-day "This Commonwealth of Opportunity" tour has reached Northern Virginia.

The governor is making 22 stops across the Commonwealth to showcase his administration's achievements as he enters the final 150 days of his term. The tour comes as federal and state investigations are underway into gifts and loans the governor and his family received from a wealthy political donor, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.

Williams was seeking help promoting his company's nutritional supplement during the time he provided the gifts and loans. McDonnell has recently apologized, repaid the loans and returned the gifts.

But he rejects the suggestion that this tour is designed to repair his restore his image.

"I do this every year, " said McDonnell. "It's good to get out of Richmond to tell people around state what we are doing in Richmond,things they might not know, things that can help them locally."

However, George Mason University political analyst Mark Rozell sees McDonnell's tour differently.

"It's more of a redemption or rehabilitation tour I think, trying to reset his public persona in a sense to get people not to focus on the investigation and all of the scandal surrounding him but actually to think differently about him and his governorship," Rozell said.

He said McDonnell does have positive accomplishments to spotlight.

"There is a positive story to tell about his term as governor and I think, in a sense, he's right to be out there talking about these things," Rozell said.

The governor focused on job creation during a stop at Intuit's Office in Fredericksburg -- the company is adding 80 employees. At the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1503 in Dale City, the governor said one of his goals was to make Virginia one of the most veteran-friendly states in the country. He said the Virginia Values Veterans program has linked 4,000 vets with employment pledges.

McDonnell said feedback he has received on his tour has been positive and he said few Virginians seem focused on the investigation that threatens to overshadow his accomplishments.

"Most people who come up to me don't talk about things except what affects them directly," said McDonnell. "They know we've had some success bringing people together. The state is in a lot better shape now than it was 3½ years ago and that's what they are talking to me about and that's encouraging."

Rozell believes even if McDonnell's tour helps repair his reputation with Virginians, his prospects for any future national political office are dim.

"I think now what he's looking at is his own legacy for his term as Governor," Rozell said. "I don't think he's going to be able to rehabilitate himself in such a way that he's going to be able to seek national office given all we've learned over past several months."

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