McDonnell talks up Romney at CPAC

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell speaks during an address to the 39th Conservative Political Action Committee February 10, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Bob McDonnell and Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney listens as Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell speaks during a campaign event at Crofton Industries on May 3, 2012 in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

(CBS News) ROSEMONT, Ill. - After a day of legislators competing to heap scorn on President Obama at the Chicago Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell took a novel approach: talk up the presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, as well.

"We need a change, and that change is Mitt Romney. This is a guy that is a man of faith, a man of character. A guy I know a little bit about. I'm honored to be a surrogate going around the country for Mitt Romney," McDonnell said.

"Yes, his dad was a governor, but he didn't get anything handed to him. He worked, he used his talents to do good things, and now, he's going to be our candidate. He's going to our next president because this is his record. In Massachusetts, he cut $3 billion out of the deficit in a blue state and at the same time was able to create jobs, stand up for the right to life, stand up for the Second Amendment, and get things done in Massachusetts. He turned things around at the Olympics. That's the guy that knows how to manage things, and boy we need to turn around the fiscal health of the United States of America," he told the crowd of conservatives at CPAC.

He was the first prominent speaker of the day to spend more than a sentence or two talking up Romney.

McDonnell, like many of his fellow governors who spoke at the Friday conference, highlighted his own record as well, boasting about low unemployment, pension and education reform and budget surpluses in his own state.

But he clearly aimed to build up his own party, talking up his fellow governors around the country - McDonnell is the head of the Republican Governors Association - and telling the audience that his experienced as a retired Army officer had taught him that "the ground guys get the troops motivated and get the job done."

Of course, he didn't pass up the chance to take a few shots of his own. McDonnell opened his speech by telling the audience he was "delighted to see all of you in the private sector are doing just fine," a swipe at Mr. Obama's comments earlier Friday about the private sector.

And as he talked about Virginia encouraging the private sector, he quipped, "We think success is a good thing. Unlike some people in the White House today," as the audience chuckled.

Obama hits Republicans for lack of action on jobs
Obama backtracks on comments that private sector is doing "fine"
Romney: Is Obama "really that out of touch?"

More from CPAC Chicago:

Marco Rubio the favorite VP choice of Chicago CPAC attendees
Jindal: Obama "most liberal, most incompetent" president since Carter
Chris Christie to conservatives: "We're right and they're wrong"

  • Rebecca Kaplan On Twitter»

    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.