By Alexander Burns and John F. Harris
On Feb. 24, 2012, Bob McDonnell was in a fix. With Mitt Romney’s VP selection process looming and McDonnell viewed as a real contender, the Virginia Legislature had very inconveniently descended into a divisive debate about mandating invasive ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.
As McDonnell walked out of a POLITICO event at the Newseum in Washington, he faced a battery of local TV cameras that were there for one purpose: to pin down McDonnell on the culture-war battle riveting Richmond.
It was the kind of moment that sends many politicians racing for the exits, with aides shouting, “No questions!” But McDonnell seemed delighted as he bounded over to greet the press throng. “Are you guys here to ask about my education plan?” he joked.
He then patiently and deftly swatted the questions away — “You can’t believe everything you hear in the national press” — giving the impression of a man thoroughly enjoying himself. His smile and peppy manner seemed almost like a taunt, as if saying to the reporters: C’mon, can’t you guys throw any tougher punches than that?