The Bob McDonnell I Knew

I thought it was odd that this guy in a tie was wearing sneakers, but he walked a lot of neighborhoods in the 1999 campaign, and I couldn’t wait to sign up. He walked practically every weeknight and the campaign signed up people to walk with him. I signed up a lot, three times a week usually. Me and Bob McDonnell walking the 84th.

I had an easy job. Walk ahead and see if someone was home while Bob wrote “Sorry I missed you” on the lit. The tough job was when I had to say, “Delegate, we have to be going” because people just wouldn’t let Bob leave.

We stop to talk to a wonderful lady, about 70, who invited both of us inside. Bob and I sat in a living room as she bragged about how she made a batch of iced tea today, and she would love for us to have some.

Spent a half hour with her, not talking a word about politics and I tried motioning to Bob that we had to go. He wouldn’t hear of it. He sat and sipped iced tea, and talked with her about the neighborhood, the weather….anything. Then we went out into the summer heat to meet her neighbors.

On these walk nights, we talked politics a lot, and I said I wanted nothing more than to make it a career – not as a candidate so much, but as a pro. That 1999 campaign was my first class. He taught me direct mail and radio, media and messaging, ground game and contrasts. His campaign team must’ve been irritated by how much I was around, but they never showed it. There was always something I could do that really needed to get done.

Shoot ahead a few years. Bob’s daughter, Jeanine, was serving in the military in Iraq and was coming home for a couple weeks. The whole family was going to the airport to greet her and spend her stay together. Flight was going to be late at night.

Bob and I were talking that day and out of the blue he said “you should meet us at the airport.” I was floored and frankly I didn’t want to impose myself into what was a family event. “Don’t be silly.”

Flight wound up even later than we thought, but there I was with all the McDonnells at the Norfolk Airport. Maureen was very upbeat and obviously missing her daughter. The kids weren’t kids anymore, and Bob seemed to enjoy talking politics in the waiting time. When Jeanine walked, more like ran, to her dad, and he hugged her with the family surrounding, I felt very special. For a small moment, I was family, too.

I snapped some photos of the moment and emailed them to Maureen, who was happy to see them. Least I could do.

Bob McDonnell made people feel special. I had lunch, dinners and buffets in the McDonnell Governor’s mansion. I got in there more than Johnnie Williams. And it wasn’t for any other reason than because that’s what Bob McDonnell did – he helped anyone who he could help, and invited them into his circle, no matter if they were Johnnie Williams or some punk kid in Virginia Beach who wanted to be a political consultant someday.

Obama’s pitbulls targeted Bob McDonnell to make him a criminal, too busy I guess for Lincoln-bedroom-selling McAuliffe, the politically-motivated snipers at the IRS, the “what does it matter now” gal who won’t talk about Benghazi, or the “don’t look at people who bribed me” Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

Bob McDonnell is no criminal. He never once had a criminal intent for any action he took. And if having a dinner in the Governor’s Mansion is a criminal act, then someone is going to have to prosecute Thomas Jefferson, or at least Dolly Madison.

Bob McDonnell is and remains a good man. I have no doubt that these unjust rulings will be overturned. If they aren’t, there are three more Virginia Governors waiting for their cuffs for similar actions.