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Virginia governor to GOP: 'Stick to your principles'

Following the House Republican leaders three-day retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, Gov.

Following the House Republican leaders three-day retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., joined Andrea Mitchell Reports on Friday to discuss how the party can rebrand and handle issues such as gun control and immigration.

McDonnell acknowledged that he feels House Republican leaders Rep. John Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor have been doing a “good job working together” but it’s not enough.

“It’s clear after this last election that we’ve got to find ways to more carefully explain to people all year long why conservative principles work,” McDonnell told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “ I think they’ll do that and I look forward to working with them as governors do around the country in getting things done.”

Much of the House GOP’s problems have stemmed from both parties failure to compromise over major issues. Mitchell mentioned the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and asked McDonnell whether Democrats and Republicans can find common ground on gun control legislation. McDonnell explained how him and former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine were able to work together to make a difference after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, but said other issues must be considered before that happens.

“I think the first question is,” O’Donnell said, “what are the policies that work that would be able to help prevent the types of things that happened at Newtown?”

O’Donnell added that after the Virginia Tech shootings he signed an executive order to institute a school safety task force, but also looked at a plethora of  other issues such as mental health, school safety, security systems within schools, and in-school resource officers, claiming “these things work.” The central focus for Virginia has been discovering which policies will protect the kids best.

Lastly, O’Donnell and Mitchell discussed Sen. Marco Rubio’s immigration proposal, which projected a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States. While McDonnell applauded Rubio’s plan, he said both parties “need to take a fresh look at immigration.”

“Until we secure the borders and actually find ways to enforce the current laws that are on the books with an understaffed and underfunded ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency), I think it’s hard to get to the final step and that is pathways to citizenship,” he said.

He mentioned that both parties should look at all suggestions to find a solution, but specifically urged the GOP to sharpen their approach.

“For the Republican Party, we got to make sure we know that people are welcomed to this country that want to come here that work hard, play by the rules, expand the economy and live the American dream,” O’Donnell said.