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Republican response: Gov. Bob McDonnell invokes Jefferson

January 27, 2010 |  7:50 pm

Mcdonnell2 Just as President Obama recalled episodes from American history in his State of the Union address, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell tonight invoked Thomas Jefferson while making the Republican response to the president’s address.

McDonnell used Jefferson to sound the familiar Republican theme of small government.

“It was Thomas Jefferson,” McDonnell said, “who called for ‘A wise and frugal government which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry .... and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.’ He was right. Today, the federal government is simply trying to do too much.”

McDonnell hit efforts by Democrats to jump start the economy -- efforts he called lacking.

He said that last year “we were told that massive new federal spending would create more jobs ‘immediately’ and hold unemployment below 8%.” 

Instead, he said, more than 3 million Americans have lost their jobs. He added that “the Democratic Congress continues deficit spending, adding to the bureaucracy, and increasing the national debt on our children and grandchildren.”

In a change from the past, McDonnell’s remarks were delivered before a live -- and supportive -- audience at the state capitol in Richmond. Usually, the State of the Union response is delivered by a speaker addressing a camera solo. The staging allowed for applause and, in some instances, humor.

“It’s not easy to follow the president of the United States,” McDonnell said. “And my twin 18-year old boys have added to the pressure, by giving me exactly 10 minutes to finish before they leave to go watch SportsCenter.”

-- Steve Padilla

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell gestures as he delivers the Republican Response to the State of the Union in the Virginia House of Delegates chambers at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)