Washington – The gathering of governors after a Monday morning meeting at the White House was supposed to be a bipartisan display of cooperation, but when Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana took a swipe at President Obama, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy let him have it.
“There are clearly differences here,” Malloy said of a three-day meeting of the nation’s governors in Washington. “But that’s the most partisan statement that we’ve had all weekend.”
Malloy was upset about Jindal’s comments about Obama’s wish to raise the federal minimum wage.
Jindal, a politically ambitious Republican, said Obama seemed to “be waving the white flag of surrender,” by promoting a hike in the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage.
“The Obama economy is now the minimum-wage economy,” Jindal said.
That prompted Malloy, a Democrat, to startle his colleagues by seizing the microphone at a National Governors Association press conference that was held after a meeting with Obama at the White House
“That’s the most insane statement I’ve ever heard,” Malloy said. “I don’t know what the heck was the reference to a white flag when it comes to people who make $404 a week.”
Malloy had also slammed governors who said they lobbied the president on final approval of the controversial Keystone pipeline.
“I want to say that not all governors support the pipeline,” he said.
Malloy later said Jindal had no right to make any comments at all because he was not a member of the NGA, yet took advantage of the organization by attending the meeting at the White House.
“He is a guy who hasn’t come to any of the meetings and yet has the nerve to (criticize Obama),” Malloy said. “He’s not a member of the NGA … he doesn’t pay his dues. This was all political.”
Last week, Obama praised Malloy and governors of other states who moved to raise their state’s minimum wage.
Before the clash, which ended the press conference, governors were touting cooperation and their ability to close ranks, especially in their opposition to administration plans to cut the budget of the National Guard.
Obama told the visiting governors Monday, “We won’t agree on every single issue every single time, but I guarantee you that we will work as hard as we can to make sure that you succeed — because when you succeed, the people in your states succeed, and America succeeds, and that’s our goal.”
“What the governors want to do is find areas of agreement,” said Republican Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, in an attempt to continue the spirit of cooperation.
And, before the Jindal-Malloy clash, Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “For every place of disagreement, there are 10 where we can say we agree.”
During the three-day NGA conference, Malloy said he met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to express his opposition to a Bureau of Indian Affairs proposal that would make it easier for tribes to win federal recognition.
But there was politicking, too.
Malloy attended a Democratic Governors Association fundraiser that featured Obama. It was held last Thursday at the swanky St. Regis Hotel with the goal of raising money for governors who face re-election this year, including Malloy.