Obama tweaks Republicans at governors lunch
President Obama leaped into political frays on a whole bunch of different levels when he addressed state governors at a White House luncheon.
Of singular interest was his mention of Republican Mitt Romney, a potential 2012 presidential candidate who is spending time these days defending the healthcare overhaul he executed as governor of Massachusetts.
The plan has been criticized by Romney’s potential 2012 rivals as little different from the Obama plan that Republicans want to repeal.
Obama got into it by saying he wants states to have flexibility under the healthcare law.
“In fact, I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts and supports giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions. He’s right. Alabama is not going to have exactly the same needs as Massachusetts or California or North Dakota,” he said.
Then there was Obama’s tweaking of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican seeking to roll back collective bargaining rights for state employees in his state. Walker was not at the lunch.
“I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service,” he said.
In the audience were at least two potential challengers to Obama in 2012: Mississippi’s Republican governor, Haley Barbour and Indiana’s Republican governor, Mitch Daniels. Also there was New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, who has made various speeches around the country lately saying he is not going to run in 2012.
Obama seemed to look at Barbour when he said:
“I hope today, all of you, feel free to make yourselves at home. For those of you with a particular interest in the next election, I don’t mean that literally,” he said.
Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama reflected in a mirror as he addresses state governors at the White House)