Gov. Dannel P. Malloy defended the Obama administration on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today over its requirement that faith-based employers include contraception coverage in their health coverage.

“I think it’s the right rule,” Malloy said.

A rarity for his chats on the program, Malloy managed to get through more than 9 minutes on camera without being drawn into some disagreement with Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey.

The governor appeared in the studio in Manhattan. Later in the morning, Malloy was to address a symposium on crime on the West Side at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He was to return to Connecticut by midday.

Malloy entered the conversation on the Health and Human Services rule on birth-control coverage after the host, Joe Scarborough, suggested that Mitt Romney immediately go to a Catholic state like Pennsylvania to talk about it.

The Democratic governor largely defused the issue.

“The problem for Gov. Romney, if he goes to Pennsylvania to talk about this, he’s going to have to explain why he had the same requirement in Massachusetts,” Malloy said. “More than half the American population lives in states that currently require that.”

Scarborough seemed surprised. “When Mitt Romney was governor, did they have the same requirement?”

“Yeah, and actually it is required by –“

Malloy paused and smiled, then finished the sentence.

“– we’ll use the term, Romneycare.”

“Is it really?” Scarborough said, leaning back and laughing.

The issue was addressed in Catholic churches over the weekend. Malloy appeared prepped and ready to act as a surrogate for the administration.

Interestingly, Malloy’s own background as a Catholic did not come up, even though much of the discussion before the governor came on camera revolved around how the issue is playing among Catholics.

Update: The White House called Connecticut’s liaison in Washington to thank Malloy for his comments.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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