The remarks came just two days after the Labor Department revealed the U.S. economy added 243,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3%, a development that was widely heralded as good political news for Obama.
The intricacy of McDonnell's argument is noteworthy: He didn't say jobs are created on the state level, as opposed to the federal level. He said the improvements happened because of Republican governors. That's a difficult argument to make when the recovery is taking hold across the country, even in states with Democratic governors.
It's also problematic because Republicans have been eager to give Obama ownership of the economy. But McDonnell's trial balloon suggests that if the economic indicators continue to tick upward, the 2012 elections could shift from a battle over who's to blame for a weak economy to who deserves credit for an improving one.