Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell offered crimson red meat to hungry conservatives attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa in a speech that spanned from his Irish-immigrant grandfather's arrival at Ellis Island today's national debt of $16 trillion.
“We’re going to showcase some of the things that Republican governors have been doing and why states with Republican governors have been doing a little bit better,” McDonnell told News4's Aaron Gilchrist earlier Tuesday. “We’ll talk a lot about the American dream and some of the policies of the current administration that have not been helpful to job growth and things that Mitt Romney will do to make it better.”
McDonnell's speech kept with Tuesday night's convention theme, taunting President Barack Obama for his line in a speech delivered in Roanoke in July when, in making the point that government aids private business, he said, “if you've got a business, you didn't build that.”
“The choice is clear -- the status quo of the entitlement society, or dynamic change to an opportunity society,” McDonnell told the convention shortly before 9 p.m. on an evening headlined by Ann Romney, the wife of GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“We need a President who will say to a small businesswoman, ‘Congratulations, we applaud your success, you did make that happen, you did build that,” McDonnell said. “Big government didn't build America. You built America!”
Much of McDonnell's speech was boilerplate familiar to those who have listened to him regularly in Virginia. As a candidate and in speeches since his election, he paid tribute to his grandfather, his World War II veteran father who was a career Air Force officer and his daughter who led an Army platoon in Iraq.
He touted Virginia's 5.9 percent unemployment rate contrasted with a national rate of 8.3 percent.
“Republican governors lead seven of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates, and 12 of the 15 states ranked best for business,” McDonnell said. “While the Obama Administration borrows over $3 billion a day just to keep the lights on, Republican governors have closed $65 billion in budget shortfalls, without raising taxes.”
Earlier, McDonnell noted his state's role in the election this year.
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“For about 40 years they ignored Virginia because it was deemed at the presidential race level to be a pretty safe Republican state,” McDonnell told Gilchrist. “I think that we’re getting attention now. I think that Virginia is a swing state. Both candidates have been in Virginia in the past month and said, ‘I don’t win Virginia I won’t be president.’”
Earlier in the day outside the state Capitol in Richmond, Democrats took aim at McDonnell in a pre-buttal to his evening speech, attacking him chiefly on women's issues.
U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., noted that McDonnell headed the GOP convention platform committee that unanimously adopted a plank that calls for a constitutional amendment outlawing all abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the life of a pregnant woman.