If Terry McAuliffe ends up becoming governor in 2013, who's he gonna call?
"Creating jobs -- and I want to commend the lieutenant governor, he's done a great job," the presumptive Democratic nominee told an audience of 200 or so at the National Federation of Independent Business breakfast Tuesday morning.
"He said he's looking forward to staying involved in job creation -- I'd like to make him one of my first appointments," McAuliffe added. "So you tell him when you see him for me that I'd love to work with him as a team."
Bolling, the lieutenant governor who withdrew from the GOP nominating race for governor against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli late last year, is toying with an independent run for the Executive Mansion. He was the first to speak at the breakfast and left before McAuliffe arrived to deliver remarks to the group.
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But when he did speak, Bolling didn't sound like he was ready to shelve his gubernatorial aspirations just yet. Remarking on a brochure for the breakfast that had pictures of McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee, on the cover, the lieutenant governor quipped:
"You might have to create a third box -- I just don't know," he said.
McAuliffe did not back off the Bolling offer in comments after the breakfast.
"If he would like to stay involved and help me create jobs, I would welcome any opportunity," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"He's got a lot of great experience in this field. Listen, I don't want to insult him... but I'd be open," McAuliffe added.
"My cabinet would be a mixture...at the end of the day, who is going to help us move Virginia forward? He's got very good ideas on business and economic development. I'd love to be involved with him to do it," he continued.
"This is not a partisan political issue on job creation. We've got a lot of big challenges," McAuliffe said.
As McAuliffe spoke outside the meeting, Cuccinelli arrived in the hallway to deliver his remarks to the group. Aides said the two men, who will battle for governor in the months ahead, had not previously met.
"Ken!" McAuliffe called out to Cuccinelli, who recognized McAuliffe but nevertheless introduced himself as "Ken Cuccinelli."
"Terry McAuliffe," McAuliffe responded. The candidates chatted amicably for a minute or so before Cuccinelli entered the meeting.
Despite the friendly exchange, Cuccinelli put a partisan edge on his early remarks to the business group, saying the "labor issue is going to be a huge dividing line" between he and McAuliffe, noting that the Democrat's largest supporters included organized labor.
For his part, McAuliffe in his remarks referenced his decades as a businessman and he would not change Virginia's status as a right-to- work state.