GOP Governors Undermine Obama’s Agenda in States

Date: Monday, February 28, 2011, 5:44 am By: Liz Sidoti, AP National Political Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Their ranks swollen after the last election, Republican governors from Florida to Alaska are undermining President Barack Obama’s agenda at every turn ahead of the Democrat’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Some are rejecting federal money for high-speed rail. Many are fighting the president’s health care law. And several are going after the Democratic Party’s bedrock constituency, pushing laws that would weaken the power of unions.

Not that any Republican governor will acknowledge that this is politics at play — even if it is.

“Republican governors are doing what they said they would as candidates,” insisted Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who led the GOP’s campaign efforts last fall and may seek the party’s presidential nomination. “All this goes back to our commitment in the last election that we’re going to get control of spending for the sake of the taxpayers.”

“It’s not a conspiracy. It’s not that we’re doing this for a political reason to go after the president,” added first term Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. “We have fundamental disagreements. We have different perspectives.”

But left unsaid in interviews with governors attending this weekend’s National Governors Association meeting was this: Republicans, particularly in places with many electoral votes, like the Midwest, are fully aware that stymieing Obama’s plans in the states could weaken him just as he tries to make the case to the country that he should get a second term.

One Republican governor has gone so far as to privately liken GOP governors’ efforts to providing “oversight of the Obama administration.”

All that provides fodder for Democrats to criticize.

“They are so obsessed with the short-term political game of keeping the president from succeeding that they’ve taken their eyes off of the big goal … which is creating jobs and moving our states and country out of this recession,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.