by Paul Goldman
Has Governor Bob McDonnell slipped on a banana peel from 1964, the year a cabal of governors wanted to derail the anti-establishment Goldwater candidacy? Normally, an anti-Washington rap would be a safe call for Governor McDonnell, like Coach Vince Lombardi calling for his Packers to do the famed “sweep” around right end, perhaps the most fabled play in the history of pro football.
But that was in BB time: Before Bachmann.
McDonnell’s team had best be in damage control mode, or his chances for being VEEP could be gone by sundown. That’s right: McDonnell is high on the draft list right now, but this was before McDonnell’s comments about Bachmann in today’s Politico.
For some reason, Governor McDonnell used an anti-Washington riff to explain why he, and apparently other GOP Governors, would prefer to see the party nominate a sitting or former member of their exclusive club for President.
“It’s just that there is a preference for somebody who has been in the states making tough calls for four or eight years” said McDonnell, according to the Politico story. “I think the best nominee for our team would be a former governor or current governor because you have to be decisive, balance budgets, and can’t kick can down road [sic]” he added, concluding with all “the things that don’t happen in Washington.”
Then, for the anti-Bachmann kicker. “If there seems to be one of the governors distinguishing himself or herself you may see a coalescing around that candidate” said McDonnell.
Will the Bachmann for President campaign read this as an ABB, Anybody But Bachmann, argument?
Indeed, the Bachmann campaign has to read McDonnell’s comments, along with others in the interview, as a not-so-veiled call, by his peers at the Republican Governor’s Conference, for Texas Governor Rick Perry to get into the race. As an added bonus for McDonnell, if Perry runs for President, he will have to resign as head of the RGA, pushing McDonnell to the top spot. So perhaps this is a clever way for McDonnell to get that high profile position and eliminate Perry as a rival for VEEP.
Is this a Bobby Fischer chess move here?
The answer might be yes, if McDonnell would only keep his thinking out of the public realm. Instead, McD went public, throwing the ball into the air where it could be intercepted by the Bachmann campaign. The history of VEEP choices is clear: it generally comes down to the person on the list who the presidential nominee most wants, or who the rest of the party least opposes.
If Perry, Romney, Pawlenty or any other RGA alumnus gets nominated, the pressure to pick Bachmann should she win Iowa and run a credible race, or at least someone out of her camp, will be irresistible.
McDonnell would then be eliminated. Should Bachmann win, she isn’t going to put someone seen as part of the ABB effort on her ticket. No way.
Net, net: For a careful guy, Governor McDonnell decided to call a very risky play on first down. As a result, he has now thrown his first interception on the national scene.
It was all risk and no reward, this Politico interview of his. As Newt Gingrich found, the GOP presidential process this year has a zero tolerance for getting out of step with the Tea Party posse. McDonnell’s interview will be posted on the wall of Bachmann’s campaign manager.
The Virginia Governor is now a marked man politically.
Let’s see if George Allen’s Senate opponents, all trying to get Tea Party cred, jump on it. They can get headlines defending Bachmann and calling out the top Republican in the state.
McDonnell’s comments are all downside, no upside, for him.
The GOP men – only male RGS boys quoted in the article – had best learn that conservative women are no longer impressed.