My Exclusive Interview with Bob McDonnell

Okay, so I’m not the one who interviewed him as much as it was Newt Gingrich. But I am a fan (admittedly, “Confederacy History Month” was an embarassment), and the interview was chock full o’ information that needed to be shared.

Mainly because I think Bob McDonnell’s campaign in Virginia is a blueprint on how conservatives should run in statewide races. Mike Huckabee has a great quote, “I’m a conservative, but I’m not mad any any about it.” McDonnell resembles that remark. No matter how hard his opponents (mainly the always fair and balanced “Washington Post”) tried to paint him as a right wong extremist who wanted women back in the kitchen and Jesus worked into the circulum of every school subject (including Algebra), McDonnell, while never shying away from his conservative principles, stayed focused on the issues. Namely, jobs and the economy.

Read these clips from the interview and tell me if this isn’t everything that conservatives need to be doing to win elections…

I figured if that’s all that people remembered on Election Day — that I was the guy who was going to help create jobs – then I win. I said, look, the free enterprise system is the best way to deliver economic opportunities for everybody. What the federal government is doing with more taxes and regulation and bailouts and spending is not going to help us. If you elect me my core focus is going to be on creating more jobs and economic opportunity that is going to help give you and your kids a better shot at a brighter future. And here’s how we’re going to do it. We’re going to promote small business. We’re going to make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. We’re going to provide more opportunity for kids to get into college at more affordable tuition rates. We’re going to make our roads a little bit better so you can get to work faster. Every issue area that we talked about returned to jobs and economic development…

We started a year out building coalitions and identifying key leaders in the Chinese, Filipino, Hispanic communities — even the Cambodian and Pakistani communities — and I just started being present. I really felt that the issue of job creation and economic development is one that transcends nationality and ethnic origin. No matter how they voted in the past, if I was there early and often talking about the issues, it would help. Particularly in the Asian community where you have so many small business people and entrepreneurs who are very much in sync with the Republican ideas of limited government and free enterprise…

Never assume that just because somebody has a long-term record of supporting the Democrats that there aren’t issues more important than political affiliation. Right now, people who are leaders in the business community are really concerned about overly intrusive federal policies. They’re concerned about the movement of the Democratic Party to more taxes, more regulation, more litigation and more unionization. I think even a conservative, pro-business Republican making a pitch to a long-term Democrat on these free enterprise issues has a shot in this environment…

I think the problem we thought would occur is that people would demonize me like they have with other Republicans to create this image that if you are a person of faith and a conservative you must be part of this stereotypical hard-core religious right that is somehow intolerant, doesn’t care about people and isn’t open-minded about emerging trends in society. We found the best way to deal with that was to just be nice. You have to be nice, you have to build bridges, you have to invite people in and listen to people. Over time, even if the other side decides they’re going to try to put you in the that box, the more people see you the more they relate to you and say, “What I’m reading about that guy is not the person that I heard speak at the event. He seems different than that. He’s likable.”

Leave the rhetoric and the fire and brimstone to talk radio and Fox News. Stay focused. Treat ALL voters with respect and talk to them like adults (even the one’s who don’t normally vote for us). Keep to the issues. It doesn’t matter if your Newt Gingrich running for President, Bob McDonnell running for Governor, or even Ed Mangano running for County Executive…when you believe the right things and are passionate and true to your convictions, that’s all you need to do to win.


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