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Governors erupt in partisan dispute at White House


WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's governors emerged from a meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday claiming harmony, only to immediately break into an on-camera partisan feud in front of the West Wing.

Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal lashed out first, saying if Obama were serious about growing the economy he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline project and take other executive actions.

Instead, Jindal said, Obama "seems to be waving the white flag of surrender" on the economy by focusing on raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, up from $7.25. "The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better than that," Jindal said.

Jindal's statements were the kind that Republicans often make on television appearances or at partisan events, but don't usually come from potential presidential candidates standing yards from the Oval Office. Other governors had been instead expressing wide agreement and appreciation for the president's time. As Jindal spoke, some of his colleagues began shaking their heads, and Hawaii Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie began audibly mumbling to others around him.

Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy took over the microphone from Jindal and responded sharply, "Wait a second, until a few moments ago we were going down a pretty cooperative road. So let me just say that we don't all agree that moving Canadian oil through the United States is necessarily the best thing for the United States economy."

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican who chairs the National Governors Association and supports Keystone, earlier said she asked Obama when the administration would decide whether to allow it and he told her there would be an answer in the next couple months.

Malloy said Jindal's "white flag statement" was the most partisan of their weekend conference and that many governors support a minimum wage increase.

"What the heck was a reference to white flag when it comes to people making $404 a week?" Malloy snapped. "I mean, that's the most insane statement I've ever heard."

Jindal did not the back down.

"If that's the most partisan thing he's heard all weekend, I want to make sure he hears a more partisan statement," the Louisiana governor responded. "I think we can grow the economy more if we would delay more of these Obamacare mandates."

As the news conference broke up, Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, vice chair of the governors association, called Jindal a "cheap shot artist" as he walked off the White House grounds.

The public dispute came after Obama appealed to the governors for their help to advance his economic policies that stand little chance of winning passage on Capitol Hill.

"Even when there's little appetite in Congress to move on some of these priories, on the state level you guys are governed by practical considerations," Obama told the governors during remarks in the State Dining Room. "You want to do right by your people."

The president pressed in particular for states to act on their own to raise the minimum wage and expand access to early childhood education, two initiatives that have gained little traction in Congress since Obama first introduced them last year.

Several governors are seen as potential presidential candidates in 2016. Obama made light of the speculation about the race to replace him, saying he "enjoyed watching some of you with your eyes on higher office size up the drapes, and each other."

Not every governor met Monday with the president.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie left the NGA meeting early to attend his daughter's birthday and prepare for a budget address.

Facing multiple investigations in a political-retribution probe in New Jersey, the Republican leader also skipped a Monday news conference by the Republican Governors Association, which he leads.

Jindal shrugged off Christie's absence from the news conference, declaring that the RGA is "more important than just any one governor."

Asked about his own presidential ambitions, Jindal responded, "My honest answer is I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2016."

Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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Amy baby February 24 2014 at 4:26 PM

And once again a fine example of how divided our country has become all thanks to the king of the universe... I'm almost 60 and i've never seen so much division of people in the US all my life ... race gender religion you name it.

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3 replies
Brian Hope February 24 2014 at 4:26 PM

Marie Antoinette had a perfect recommendation for "growing the economy": "Let them eat cake!"

Flag Reply +3 rate up
itbloo February 24 2014 at 4:26 PM

I would love to make $400 a week. I just might be able to slip by.

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1 reply
claygiffin itbloo February 24 2014 at 4:31 PM

If your not making $400 a week I'll bet money you are not a College grad, Skilled in any trade, think your to good to take an entry level job while looking for a better one. Then again maybe you just like the government checks.

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mfrer2 February 24 2014 at 4:28 PM

Very true Bob, along with the liberals that support him.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
digitalassets February 24 2014 at 4:33 PM

Enough kids gramcrackers and milk will be served after you play and take your naps.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
drshaskan February 24 2014 at 4:33 PM

I really dislike the obvious bias of this article. Please stick with facts. I'll decide whether and where to assign blame

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1 reply
zmlyons1 drshaskan February 24 2014 at 5:16 PM

Hey my friend - can anyone report a news event without being read as someone's 'bias'? This entire nation is biased...with a penchant for rudeness. Remember Betty Sheehan calling President George Bush "a lying bastard" for all the world to hear? That shook me to no end, but I've adjusted my reaction to listening to other equally vernaculars such as 'subhuman mongrel' - all of which tells the world how well bred we are as a people - and best of all, how clear our intelligence comes through. Where do we fall on that list? hmmm.

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ebg3fla February 24 2014 at 4:38 PM

Most of these guys and women are simply idiots.

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A.A.H.C.,L.L.C. February 24 2014 at 4:41 PM

If they were worried about saving money and re-allocating money for the good of the nation, then how about saving the US taxpayer $328,000,000.00 a year and send all the people that ILLEGALLY snuck into this country back where they came from; then return that money to Social Security and extend unemployment insurance - besides increasing minimum wage that they need to do because of all the new taxes and expenses the government has imposed on it's citizens without giving anything back what so ever. What do they do up there on the hill besides try to get into each other's pants and pockets? They have no regard for the American public except to get their vote and make money off of us. We need a clean sweep of those bumbs and their terms in office limited to 2 (two) and that's all; without any benefits afterwards like they allowed to happen to our fighting forces. How many of those creeps in office have served in the military anyway, I'm curious...

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1 reply
The Anti-Goebbels A.A.H.C.,L.L.C. February 24 2014 at 4:50 PM

That works for me...this administration wants to reward those who disrespect us and disenfranchise those who respected our legal path to entry, only to have the border jumpers take the slots they've waited for...What kind of message does that send to the world going forward? Clearly no one will ever respect our laws to entry again...

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kfoutsjr February 24 2014 at 4:41 PM

Come all, don't stoop to the politicians level of back biting, arguing and accusing! Let's be reseanable and talk to each other in civil tones. Don't be just liberals and conservatives, be AMERICAN and get along. To coin a phrase "We can work things out"............

Flag Reply +5 rate up
pfahlappraisal February 24 2014 at 4:42 PM

Sizing up the drapes in the Big! The guys in the Ukrane have all the guts and we obviously do not.
So guess what were gonna get for supper? Leftovers...

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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