Wrap-Up of the McDonnell Kick-Off

As many of you know, former Attorney General Bob McDonnell officially kicked off his campaign this past weekend and will continue touring the state with his message of economic prosperity and principled reform. He’ll be making two stops in the Valley on Tuesday in Harrisonburg and on Wednesday in Winchester. You can find more information about those stops here, but in the meanwhile, here’s some ‘best of’ coverage from the weekend. 

First and foremost, you can read the complete text of his speech here. 

And now, first from the mainstream media, only because they’re used to it and could use the ego boost. From the Washington Post

“To every Virginian who has lost their job, to every small-business owner trying to make payroll, to every retiree afraid to look at their retirement account, to every homeowner struggling to make the next mortgage payment, to every parent worried about writing that next tuition and book check: This campaign is for you,” he said to cheers.

McDonnell touted a variety of proposals — drilling off the state’s coast, creating tax-free zones for companies involved in producing renewable energy, widening Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway, increasing educational programs in high-need areas such as nursing and engineering, conducting independent audits of state agencies and creating a task force to examine ways to make life easier for working mothers.

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

McDonnell said he would cut red tape to make sure Virginians can start a business in 48 hours. He said he would support drilling for oil and gas 50 miles off Virginia’s coast, and would emphasize green energy jobs by creating tax-free zones to encourage renewable energy technologies.

McDonnell said he places an emphasis on government frugality and called for independent audits of major state agencies. He noted that the state budget has doubled in the past 10 years and has grown 30 percent faster than the rate of inflation and population growth.

From The Associated Press via the Daily Press:

At his second stop of the day at a high school in Richmond’s affluent Henrico County suburbs, McDonnell’s most rousing ovation from a crowd of several hundred were over his support for abortion restrictions, gun rights and his attack on unions, a mainstay of money and campaign support for Democrats. 

“Now all three of my opponents look at it differently,” McDonnell said of the Democratic field. He said they will not oppose the card check bill. 

Moran, McAuliffe and Deeds are on record as supporting the state’s right-to-work law. And none has either endorsed nor opposed the card-check legislation, dismissing it as a federal issue. 

That provides a nice segue into coverage from the blogs of the MSM folks. First up from NBC 12, which has video from the speech:

McDonnell was joined at the event by all three candidates for the Republican nomination for Attorney General and his running mate and the current incumbent Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. I wasn’t at the event but watched the tape back after our photographer Richard Garner returned and wanted to share a few key moments which I think define the McDonnell campaign.

McDonnell clearly needs to separate himself from the Republican brand. If this event is any indication of how he plans to do that, it will come on the backs of three populist issues, which he believes conservatives have the winning argument: taxes, energy and the economy, most specifically job creation.

The Washington Post blog offers an interesting statistic from the speech:

McDonnell began his six-day “New Jobs, More Opportunities” tour of the state with a mostly positive speech outlining broad policy goals that focus on creating jobs and boosting the economy, partly by cutting bureaucratic red tape to allow Virginians to open a business in 48 hours. He mentioned jobs 19 times.

Now on to the true stars of the weekend, the blogs, which showed how activists can offer superior and more in-depth coverage than other media outlets. First up: Too Conservative, which had the best coverage, as one would hope, given that their founder Vincent Harris is working for Bob on new media. He has video from the Annandale rally here and live-blogged the Annandale, Richmond, and Virginia Beach rallies with plenty of photos and such over at BobMcDonnell.com.

BearingDrift.com has a great live-blog on the event in Virginia Beach, as well as audio from the speech. One highlight is their response to McAuliffe’s pre-emptive smears against Bob on the economy, noting that Terry is saying one thing to business and another to labor:

“Bob McDonnell has a long record of standing against Governor Mark Warner and Governor Tim Kaine, and he has opposed many of the policies that have made Virginia the best managed state in the nation,” said Chairman McAuliffe’s campaign – of Global Crossing fame whose primary business credentials are fund-raising for the Clintons and apparently being an African-American barber. “While Terry McAuliffe has been laying out a comprehensive Business Plan to get Virginia’s economy back on track, Bob McDonnell has been deafeningly silent.”

Really?

Wasn’t it McDonnell who asked McAuliffe to sign a letter Secretary of Interior Salazar addressing Virginia’s energy needs and jobs – but McAuliffe refused?

Wasn’t it McAuliffe who marched with a union picketing Hilton, while Gov. Kaine was bringing Hilton jobs to Virginia?

While McAuliffe is trying to distract from McDonnell today, you can’t distract from the clarity of McDonnell’s message.

Chris Beers at Mason Conservative notes the enthusiasm of the crowd, as well as the unity at the event and the conspicuous lack of active campaigning from the AG field:

So I stopped by the Annandale Fire House to see Bob McDonnell’s kickoff yesterday morning.  I would have had something up faster but I went out last night and am now just getting my bearings.  So I was impressed with the turnout, the firehouse was certainly packed . . . somewhere between 400-500 people for sure.  I got there right at 10 am so I missed whatever might have been going on.  Couple things, first and foremost any campaigning by the AG candidates was clearly banned because none of them were allowed to have any yard signs or literature passed out.  BothTom Davis and Frank Wolf gave nice little pep talks about how this is the best group of Republican candidates we’ve had in a long time.

….

Overall, it was a good speech and a great way to kick off the campaign.  McDonnell is putting together a truly unified message statewide, linking each part of the commonwealth to the other through broad and clear proposals that will bring the state party together.  One of our biggest problems as a party has been the sectional divides, the inability of our leadership to make other sections understand how helping another helps everyone.  McDonnell and Bolling seem to be work hard on this and I am, quite frankly, very excited about the whole ticket right now. 

Finally Crystal Clear Conservative (one of my new faves in the VA Conservative Blogosphere) has a great wrap-up of the Annandale speech: 

On a rainy Saturday morning, a gathering of about 700 supporters (confirmed by the Fairfax County Republican Committee) filtered into the Annandale Fire Hall to rally around Bob McDonnell as he officially kicked off his run for Governor. This enthusiastic crowd was pumped to welcome the McDonnell/Bolling team to town, as they held signs that said, “Bob 4 Jobs,” “Welcome Back Bob!,” and “Maureen 4 1st Lady.”

….

McDonnell also emphasized his strong ties to Northern Virginia. He mentioned to the audience that he met his wife, Maureen about two miles from the venue event. Additionally, he talked about how he and his wife both grew up in Fairfax County. It was definitely a great homecoming for both Bob and Maureen McDonnell.

Overall, the Kickoff event shows the strength of the Republican Party. The audience was fired up and ready to go out to help the McDonnell/Bolling team. No doubt, this event was a success and the momentum will continue to strengthen as we get the message of limited government and lower taxes to the people of Virginia.

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