But Malloy was already walking away from the news conference. He called Jindal a “cheap shot artist” as he departed the White House grounds. The public dispute came after Obama appealed to the governors for their help to advance his economic policies that stand little chance of winning passage on Capitol Hill.
“Even when there’s little appetite in Congress to move on some of these priories, on the state level you guys are governed by practical considerations,” Obama told the governors during remarks in the State Dining Room. “You want to do right by your people.”
In particular, the President pressed for states to act on their own to raise the minimum wage and expand access to early childhood education, two initiatives that have gained little traction in Congress since Obama first introduced them last year.
Several governors are seen as potential presidential candidates in 2016 something Obama made light of in the meeting, saying he “enjoyed watching some of you with your eyes on higher office size up the drapes, and each other.”
One of the most public of those candidates, embattled New Jersey governor Chris Christie, left the NGA meeting early to attend his daughter’s birthday and prepare for a budget address. Facing multiple investigations in a political-retribution probe in New Jersey, the Republican leader also skipped a Monday news conference by the Republican Governors Association, which he leads.
Jindal shrugged off Christie’s absence from the news conference, declaring that the RGA is “more important than just any one governor.” Asked about his own presidential ambitions, Jindal responded, “My honest answer is I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 2016.”