The Republican National Convention continues today in Tampa, Florida, coming to a close tonight with an acceptance speech from Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. It's a chance for the former Massachusetts governor to appeal to a prime time audience, particularly voters in key swing states. Virginia is one of those states, and Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling — who serves as a Romney campaign co-chair in the commonwealth — talked with WAMU's Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey via phone on the sidelines of the convention. Here are some highlights:
On what voters in the Commonwealth will be watching for in Romney's speech: "They want to hear Governor Romney's plan to get the economy moving again, to get the 23 million Americans who are out of work and suffering under Obama back to work," Bolling said. "They want to hear about what he's going to do to save and preserve critical entitlements … It's clear that what President Obama has tried to do in the last four years isn't working. I think people just want to hear that Governor Romney has a better plan."
Whether the economic message is resonating with Virginia voters, given that the state's unemployment rate is far below the national average: "…There is a lot more that we can do if we get Washington to stop pursuing anti-business policies and start pursuing pro-business policies," Bolling said. "And Virginians are also concerned about some of these looming economic threats that are out there."
On Virginians' concerns about pending budget cuts coming from the debt ceiling deal: "President Obama continues to push this sequestration proposal which would result in massive cuts in the nation's defense infrastructure. And that would have a tremendously inverse impact on Virginia's economy, particularly in Northern Virginia," Bolling said. Estimates are that we could lose more that 200 thousand jobs as a result of sequestration and those defense cuts."
On the effectiveness of all the negative ads that have been bombarding Virginians to the past few months: "Well campaigns are always tough, I'd like to see more of a positive message coming out of both campaigns. The one thing I will say though are the criticisms that we've made of President Obama have been based on his record," Bolling said. "On the other hand, the Obama campaign has been all about division, distortion, dishonesty. President Obama can't run on his record because it is in every respect a record of failed leadership."
On his gubernatorial race against Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and Cuccinelli's perceived advantages in the state's Republican nominating convention: "Absolutely, a convention campaign is very different from a primary campaign. And frankly the attorney general is very well known in Virginia, but as many people as like him dislike him," Bolling said. "So sometimes being well-known isn't a good thing if folks don't like you. And a lot of these issues he's been involved in have created a lot of visibility but in most of the issues he's just not been successful in getting anything done."
Bolling's own strategy to get the nomination: "So I'm going to be talking about why I think I'm the most qualified candidate to lead Virginia into the future, why I think I'm the only Republican candidate that is actually electable in a state-wide campaign …" Bolling said. "I look forward to comparing my record against his, and if people are looking for mature, responsible, thoughtful, mainstream conservative leadership, they'll be drawn to my candidacy."