The Washington Post

Governors talk bipartisanship, then feud over Obama’s economic policies

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Roughly a dozen governors stood outside the White House Monday to tout the importance of working across party lines after meeting with privately with President Obama--until they started feuding over whether Obama had ruined the economy.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said the president "seems to be waiving the white flag of surrender" and abandoned all hope of producing a robust economy now that he was pushing for a raise in the minimum wage.

"After more than  five years under this administration, the Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy," he said. "I think we can do better than that. I think America can do better than that."

He added the president should approve the Keystone XL pipeline "if he was serious about growing the economy."

Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy (D) then stepped up to the microphone and retorted, "You just heard what ended up being the most partisan statement that we’ve heard all weekend."

"I don’t know what the heck is a reference to a 'white flag' when it comes to people making four hundred and four dollars a week," Malloy said. "That’s the most insane statement I’ve ever heard."

Malloy took pains to point out that some governors don’t want Obama to issue a presidential permit for the massive pipeline project. “Not all of us agree moving Canadian oil through the United States is necessarily the best thing for the United States economy.”

The dispute was sparked by a discussion of the controversial Keystone pipeline, which would transport heavy crude oil from Canada to the United States. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), who chairs the National Governors Association, pressed the president during Monday's meeting for approval of the project.

"He anticipates an answer one way or another in a couple of months," she said. "Of course I’m a big supporter of the Keystone pipeline... We think it’s important."

White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to specify whether the pipeline review process would finish that soon, and instead referred questions to the State Department, which is overseeing the permit. "I don't have a timetable for you," he said.

Related: Democratic governors recap meeting with Obama on Friday

After meeting with President Obama Friday, Democratic governors speak to reporters about the conversation and initiatives in their states. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)



Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.

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