- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tampa, Fla. — With Tropical Storm Isaac delaying the Republican National Convention by a day, Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and his wife, Jean Ann, got a rare chance for some downtime Sunday and Monday evenings, using it to catch two movies – the romantic comedy “Hope Springs” and the action blockbuster “The Bourne Legacy.”

The dichotomy of the choices was somewhat fitting, given Mr. Bolling’s description of President Obama in 2008 versus 2012 on Wednesday: as a positive, hopeful candidate whose initial flash has devolved into a muddled franchise some argue has gone on far too long.

“In 2008, people clearly wanted a change,” Mr. Bolling said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Times. “And President Obama clearly provided that.”

Not in a good way, he said.

“Some of the things the Obama campaign likes to talk about — they’re the only ones talking about it,” he said. “You know, no one in America is talking about Mitt Romney’s tax returns; they’re worried about their own tax returns. And the fact that 23 million Americans are suffering because they don’t have a job. So we just have to keep talking about the things that matter to the American people.”

“When you have a record of failed leadership, you can’t run on your record,” he continued. “All you can do is attack your opponent. And if you can’t attack your opponent fairly, you attack him unfairly and you try to demonize him, and that’s what we’re seeing.”

Mr. Bolling, who is reprising his role from 2008 as Mr. Romney’s campaign chairman in battleground Virginia, said Ann Romney’s Tuesday night speech did a tremendous job of helping people get to know the man as a person, rather than a governor, businessman or candidate.

“What I think Ann was able to do was let people see the real Mitt Romney,” Mr. Bolling said. “I’ve known Mitt and Ann for five years, and I can tell you that he’s one of the nicest, most decent human beings that I’ve ever met in my life, that he’s a very modest, humble guy. I mean, this is a guy that climbs in the third seat of the Tahoe. I mean, he’s just a very down-to-earth guy.”

Mr. Bolling is also close with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has emerged as a key Romney surrogate and pledged to support Mr. Bolling in his battle for the 2013 GOP gubernatorial nomination in Virginia. Mr. Bolling is squaring off against Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II.

But Mr. Bolling said his sole focus politically right now is on getting Mr. Romney elected in Virginia and into the White House.

“Look, there’ll be a lot of political shoes to drop here in the next 60 or 90 days, and we’re just not even thinking about that,” he said. “I mean, we really are focused on getting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan elected. If we get them elected, the country will be in a better place; Virginia will be in a better place. We may take November seventh off, but then on November eighth we’ll start talking about 2013.”