INTERVIEW: Bob McDonnell prepares to take the oath of office

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The man set to take the oath of office has been working toward this goal for almost his entire life. NBC12 sat down with Virginia's next governor for a lengthy interview focused on what he hopes to accomplish in his time in office.

Bob McDonnell's boyhood hero is George Washington. He was raised in the shadow of Mount Vernon and is among other things a student of history. The politician often evokes his legendary predecessor like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry when he discusses the job he is about to embark on. A job that brings with it, a mountain of issues to deal with.

There have been easier times to take on the role of Virginia's governor, but Bob McDonnell, doesn't seemed too concerned. He is ready to go to work on day one.

"It's all going to start with fiscal responsibility and creating jobs and opportunity. I think that is the reason those are the key reasons that people elected me and I am going to make that my top priority in this first couple of weeks," said McDonnell.

McDonnell has been around Virginia's government long enough to recognize that things are tough. Even though the commonwealth has been consistently recognized as one of the best managed in the country, he believes there is still plenty of work to be done.

"I mean we're good, I think we can be excellent," he said.

If his campaign rhetoric matches his governing style - Virginia's government could be in store for a major overhaul; an overhaul that could include a close review of every single agency that receives tax payer dollars.

"Do we need every agency that we've had for 100 years, all 156 of them? Do they all do the things that need to be done, or can we find some savings there?" McDonnell asked.

But change in Richmond never comes easy. While McDonnell has plans to invest $1 billion to fix transportation, drill offshore for natural gas and privatize the state's ABC stores, he needs the legislatures help to do so - a legislature that still has at least one house controlled by democrats.

"The only way I get stonewalled in the senate is if they all, all 21 democrats, say that we are going to try to not pass this governor's agenda because maybe for partisan reasons. I don't think they'll do that," he said.

It's actually 22 democrats, after a win by a democrat in a northern Virginia special election. But while the battles here on the homefront are expected to be fierce, McDonnell still plans to keep a close eye on Washington, where he believes important pieces of legislation that impact Virginia could come to a head.

"What happens in Washington with the federal government, dramatically impacts Virginia. We can't say, they are two different levels of government and the Congress' actions don't affect Virginia. It absolutely does," he said.

But the more McDonnell talks about Washington, the more pundits will speculate that he has his eyes on a bigger prize. Perhaps a run for the White House. Something the new governor claims is not something he is even thinking about.

"Listen, I'm just worried about governing Virginia and if I do that well, maybe there will be opportunities for me down the road. But I have to stay laser focus as to what is going on in Virginia," said McDonnell.

It is early, but it sounds like the soon to be governor has completely ruled out the idea of perhaps running for president.

(c) 2010. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.