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Democratic governors to GOP White House hopefuls: 'Cheer up'

February 24, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, chair of the Democratic Governors Assn., speaks with other Democratic governors after meeting with President Obama at the White House.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, chair of the Democratic Governors… (Olivier Douliery / Abaca…)

Reporting from Washington —

A group of Democratic governors sent a simple message to the GOP: "Cheer up."

"These Republicans that are running for president are so depressed," Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said Friday after a White House meeting with fellow Democrats. "We've got some good news -- a great president creating jobs. And governors who are seeing job creation and therefore revenues."

Most of the state executives are in the nation's capital this weekend for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Assn. It's meant to be a nonpartisan gathering, where the shared message is typically one that laments gridlock in Washington in contrast with progress being made at the state level.

But in an election year, the partisan lines are more sharply drawn. The group of Democrats, whose numbers were thinned in the 2010 midterms, had their own meeting Friday with President Obama and members of his economic team at the White House.

Officially, the White House said the meeting was part of an "ongoing discussion with Democratic governors about the ways that the federal government and the states can work together to create jobs and grow the economy."

"We all feel a personal responsibility to partner with the president in order to accelerate our jobs recovery," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, the Democratic Governors Assn. chairman, told reporters after.

But it also had the feel of a pep talk. Dannel Malloy, first-term governor of Connecticut, called it "one of the most inspirational meetings he'd ever attended."

"The leader of the free world has done something that no president has done in a long time, and that is back-to-back years of manufacturing job growth in the United States -- something that many of us would have thought just a few years ago was absolutely impossible to do," he said.

The governors can play an important role as prominent surrogates for the president's reelection campaign in their home states. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called his state the classic "purple state," and predicted Obama would again carry it this fall.

And now, many feel they have a positive case to make on his behalf when it comes to jobs, as Shumlin and Malloy in particular indicated.

"If the American voters vote on jobs, this guy is going to win with 75% of the vote," Malloy said.

michael.memoli@latimes.com
twitter.com/mikememoli

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