03/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's Charm Offensive: Crist And Barbour Push Back On GOP Lines

Perhaps President Obama's charm offensive with Republicans is beginning to work.

Standing outside the White House on Monday, after a meeting with the president, two GOP governors -- one moderate, the other conservative -- critiqued their Republican brethren for some of the quips and counter-proposals lobbed at the economic stimulus package.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who has been, perhaps, the foremost Republican Governor in support of the economic recovery package, said that his GOP colleagues were being a bit disingenuous when they used relatively small spending provisions in the stimulus to attack the entire package.

"I took [the president's defense on this front] as being accurate," said the Florida Republican. "Yeah, the guy is right. You've got to stay focused on the big picture. I mean, everybody has a right to their own opinion and God bless them for that. But we are in an economic crisis, we need to come together as a country and focus on the big picture. And anytime, as the president says, a bill goes through Congress it is not going to be a perfect product. But you can argue over nuances and that's fine to do, that's okay. But the big picture is to try and get our country moving forward and moving forward quickly."

It was another in a expanding line of defenses that Crist has offered on Obama's behalf, including an appearance on "Meet the Press" this Sunday.

Then came Haley Barbour. Standing just feet from Crist, the conservative firebrand from Mississippi expressed general disappointment with the size of the stimulus. "We could have created the same amount of jobs for about half as much money," he said.

But when pressed about the Republican alternative in Congress -- comprised almost solely of tax cuts -- Barbour said that, that too would have been ineffectual.

"I think that would have been very good stimulus, but it would have not helped the states deal with the interests that they have," he said. "And if somebody have asked me I would have said that it is good policy to do things like [Federal Medical Assistance Percentages] infusion and to have some funds."

Barbour said that he would likely take the stimulus money while skipping out on the cash destined for expanding the state's unemployment insurance coverage. "It is about $50 million out of about $2.5 billion," he said of the funds he would turn down.