McDonnell apologizes in final State of the Commonwealth - WNEM TV 5

McDonnell apologizes in final State of the Commonwealth

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Governor Bob McDonnell has just a few days left in office and his final moment in the spotlight just wrapped. McDonnell has finished delivering his last State of the Commonwealth.

McDonnell addressed the Star Scientific scandal but it was only a very small part of a lengthy speech, where the republican argued that his time as Virginia's governor was well spent.

His last speech in Virginia's historic state capitol started with a tribute to a former rival.

"Welcome back Creigh we love you," McDonnell said to standing ovation for the man recovering from a near death ordeal that lead his son to commit suicide.  

It was Creigh Deeds who lost to McDonnell four years ago- giving him the opportunity to serve as governor- four years he considers a success.

"Virginia's state government has worked," he argued.

McDonnell used his speech to point to business leaders who helped grow the economy.

Foster parents who adopted children in need of a home, and a man who after serving nine years in prison started his own business.

"He has reunited with his family and serves as a positive role model to his daughters, helping them make good life choices," McDonnell said while highlighting the success of Virginia's prisoner re-entry program.

He defended his decision to raise taxes to build roads and argued his reforms of education will pay long term dividends.

But in his fifty minute speech, he spent only three lines defending the scandal that has clouded his administration. He admitted that taking gifts from Star-Scientific's CEO didn't look good. But denied his mistakes were criminal.

"Choices I made were legal, and as several reviews have shown, no person or company received any special benefits during our Administration," the governor said.   

Fellow lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were ready to accept McDonnell's apology.

"I think it was heartfelt," said Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) "I am certainly one who believes in the power of redemption."

"He's a good man who and he's done a lot of good for the citizens of Virginia," said Sen. Walter Stosch (R-Hanover)

And so Bob McDonnell exits the spotlight, his mark on history still yet to be determined.

We have a full look back at the McDonnell term in office, and what could come next for him on our political blog DecisionVirginia.com.

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