Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

In Context: McDonnell denies his impending ad campaign

Gov. Bob McDonnell denied he plans to launch an ad campaign in Virginia during an April 17 interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC.

Gov. Bob McDonnell’s launch this week of a TV ad campaign in Virginia lauding his economic record has raised eyebrows.

After all, McDonnell can’t run for a second term next year because Virginia doesn’t allow its governor to serve successive terms. But McDonnell is widely mentioned as a top prospect for becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate on the Republican national ticket, however, and several political scientists say the ad is aimed at repairing a dip in his popularity ratings this year after he signed controversial legislation requiring women to have ultrasounds before abortions.

McDonnell has appeared a little sensitive about all these topics. The Washington Post broke the news April 17 that the governor’s political action committee was planning the ad campaign. The next day, he appeared on MSNBC and denied plans to run what turned out to be a slick ad campaign across Virginia that began April 23.

Here’s a transcript of McDonnell’s of the start of McDonnell’s MSNBC interview with Chuck Todd.

Todd: "I want to start with this morning in the "Washington Post " about some TV ads that your PAC, I believe it’s called 'Opportunity Virginia,’ will be unveiling about you. Can you tell me more about this TV ad campaign?"

McDonnell: (laughs) "Well, you know you can't believe everything you read in the papers, Chuck, I can only tell you that we don't have any plans at this point, but I tell you we're always looking for ways to get out the positive message about what we're doing in Virginia. We got the lowest unemployment rate in three years, the lowest in the Southeast, $1 billion in surpluses, have had major reforms this session and, unfortunately, our Democratic Party friends continue to stonewall and kill budgets and talk down about our state. I'm always looking for ways to get a positive message out about what we're doing in Virginia. I don't have anything else to say at this point, there’s nothing else planned. But we’re always wanting to tell our positive Virginia story around the country and around the world to create jobs."

Todd: "So you are contemplating buying TV ad time but you haven’t made a final decision? What’s the best way to characterize this?

McDonnell: "Well there's no way to characterize it, other than I don't know where those reports have come from. Right now, I’ve got the General Assembly back. We got a budget fight where Senate democrats have killed the budget three times over committee assignments and train projects and so forth. So I am really focused on what we're doing here in Virginia. I’m trying to get the message out. We’ve done radio ads before, recently, to talk about what's at stake here if we don't have a budget. So those are are the kinds of things that we're focused on, Chuck, but there's nothing else that I can talk about at this point  that we're doing."

We asked Tucker Martin, McDonnell’s director of communications, to explain the governor’s denial of impending ad campaign to Todd. Martin emailed this response:

"The governor was correct. As of April 18th (the date of the Todd interview) no time had been booked for any television ads. No plan was set in stone. Like the Governor said, we are always looking for new ways to tell the great story about all the positive things happening in Virginia. At the moment that he was asked on MSNBC if we were going up with TV ads he correctly answered that no final plans had been made."

Martin added: "Political organizations are always kicking around ideas and thoughts about advertising and message dissemination. Nothing is final however until a real plan is drafted and actual checks are cut. Until that happens, it’s all conjecture."