RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--What seemed like a glowing endorsement of Lt. Governor Bill Bolling as Virginia’s next governor was quickly retracted by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
On Saturday, Romney called Bolling “a great friend and, I hope, the next governor of Virginia,” at a rally in Ashland.
Later, while greeting crowds outside, Romney backpedaled a bit. “There are a couple of guys in this race. I love them both. I want to see one of those guys take his (Gov. McDonnell’s) place.”
Political experts believe Romney was reminded that Bolling was challenging Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) in a primary.
However, Bolling says he never construed Romney’s words to be anything other than a compliment.
“Governor Romney and I are good friends and I think he was just trying to be nice,” Bolling says. “I didn’t read anymore into it than that.”
But the jaws of many, including political pundits, did drop over what seemed like a clear endorsement. Cuccinelli is very popular among Virginia’s Tea Party members.
However, Bolling has supported Romney since 2007 and is the chairman of his Virginia campaign.
CBS 6 political analyst, Bob Holsworth, says it would be unusual for Romney to endorse a candidate, especially when he’s trying to unite all the wings of the Republican party in a crucial swing state.
“The last thing he (Romney) wants to do is tick off half of the Republicans in Virginia by wading into their nomination battle.” Holsworth argues.
Holsworth says it’s possible Romney will endorse Bolling after the election, or even consider him for a cabinet position if he wins the presidency.
While Bolling says he would welcome Romney’s endorsement for governor, he says he’s not thinking too far into the future.
“I’ve got four jobs right now,” Bolling laughs. “I’m not looking for another job.”