Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Monday brushed off criticism of Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel, saying, “It’s always easy to capitalize on little statements that might have been made.”
But overall, McDonnell told Fox News contributor Dana Perino Monday night, he believes the Republican presidential contender has done “a good job” engaging with world leaders and showing voters back home that “he’s got the command of the [foreign policy] issues.”
McDonnell made no direct reference to Palestinian outrage over Romney’s suggestion Monday that Israel’s culture explains why the Jewish state has been so successful economically.
Palestinian leaders were quick to comment that Romney apparently had no grasp of the trade restrictions imposed by Israel or other issues with regards to Israeli-Palestinian relations.
McDonnell, however, said Romney had accomplished his goal on the trip of stressing the importance of maintaining strong ties with Israel and other U.S. allies.
The Virginia Republican also noted that the Israelis have “accomplished an incredible amount as a start-up nation” even though they’re “surrounded by people that oftentimes attack their values and attack them physically.”
“This is the kind of thing we ought to be supporting and appreciating and constantly supporting, and I don't think [President Barack Obama] has done that,” McDonnell added.
Turning to domestic politics and the U.S. economy, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association noted that his own state of Virginia, considered a key battleground state, is doing better than most, with unemployment at 5.7 percent, which he called the lowest in the Southeast.
The state is also running $130 million budget surplus for a third straight year, he noted.
“It's making government work the same way people manage their checkbooks or businesses manage their books,” McDonnell said. “You've got to make tough decisions. You have to be honest with people, tell them what you can and can’t afford. You have to balance your budget, which every governor in the country has to do, unlike Washington, where they kick the can down the road, make excuses, print money, and don’t cut spending.”
“It’s not that hard a formula. It’s worked in Virginia, and I think it can work for the country,” he continued, adding that Mitt Romney, as a former governor of Massachusetts, would apply the same economic principles at the federal level.
McDonnell noted how much time Obama and Romney have been spending in Virginia recently, an indication, he said, of how much value both candidates place on winning the state.
In 2008, Obama won the state. But McDonnell predicted a different outcome this year for the incumbent.
“I think this is a different rodeo this time around,” he said. “That hope and change message [from Obama in 2008] is now division and fear and recession. It’s blaming other people. It’s not taking responsibility. And there’s no leadership.”
“As good as we are doing,” McDonnell continued, referring to lower unemployment, “we’d be doing a lot better with a Romney administration that understands limited government.”
McDonnell said he had no ill feelings toward Obama, but had simply lost faith in his ability to turn things around.
“Nice guy, good family man, he worked hard,” McDonnell said. “The policies didn’t work. So it’s time for a change in Virginia, and for the country.”
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