WASHINGTON -- Three Republican governors used a Monday afternoon press conference to criticize President Barack Obama's record and lay groundwork for the Republican position in the ensuing election campaigns.
Republican Governors Association Chairman Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and two of his colleagues -- Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Nikki Haley of South Carolina -- focused the RGA-sponsored press conference on promoting a Republican alternative for president. McDonnell also said that he plans to encourage Republican gubernatorial candidates nationally to tie their Democratic opponents to Obama.
Jindal said that the National Governors Association meeting with Obama Monday morning did not change his feelings about the presidency.
"I went into the White House thinking we need a conservative president," he said. "I left thinking we need a conservative president."
The trio -- speaking following an RGA fundraising event -- kept their sights focused on Obama during the session. While praising the president for speaking on education issues, they noted that much of his focus, including merit pay and charter schools. is the same as what Republican governors have been pushing.
The three called on Obama to halt business regulations and federal mandates for state governments, saying that it will help governors create jobs and manage their states. Haley, who has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president, said that she's been "frustrated" with the Obama administration when she is working on budget issues in her state.
McDonnell said that while part of the RGA's strategy will be to tie Democratic candidates to Obama, he is also urging Republicans to focus on their state policies first. He said that this is patterned after his 2009 campaign in Virginia against Democrat Creigh Deeds.
“You have to set a positive and uplifting vision for their states. That’s what people want," McDonnell said. "They are tired of the blame game here in Washington.