- The Washington Times - Friday, January 20, 2012

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday endorsed Mitt Romney for president and will head to South Carolina to campaign for the former Massachusetts governor ahead of Saturday’s Palmetto State primary.

Appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday morning while in New York on an economic development-related trip, Mr. McDonnell said that Mr. Romney would be the best candidate to defeat President Obama in November.

“As I have said throughout this primary process, we need a governor to serve as our next president,” Mr. McDonnell said in a statement released by the Romney campaign. “Mitt Romney has been an effective leader his entire life, in business, the Olympics and as governor. President Obama’s lack of leadership experience is now clear – he has failed to turn around the economy and end the gridlock in Washington.”

With Mr. McDonnell’s friend Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. bowing out of the race, Mr. Romney is the one governor left standing. A number of Virginia legislators have already pledged support to Mr. Romney, including Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, his state campaign chairman.

The Virginia governor is scheduled to appear at a rally in Charleston at 4 p.m. and attend events with Mr. Romney Friday evening and Saturday morning. Mr. McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association and often mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick, was in South Carolina last Saturday and spoke at a presidential town hall hosted by Rep. Tim Scott.

“Governor McDonnell’s leadership in Virginia is an example for the rest of the nation,” Mr. Romney said. “Governor McDonnell has used the conservative principles of keeping taxes and spending low and creating a fair regulatory climate to make Virginia a top destination for job creators. These same principles can be used in Washington to fix our economy and make government accountable to the taxpayers. I am proud to have his support and look forward to working with Governor McDonnell.”

Mr. Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas will be the only Republican candidates to appear on the March 6 Virginia primary ballot.