President Obama used a dinner for the nation’s governors on Sunday night to rib his fellow elected officials about their hopes to return to the White House — as president.
“Tonight, we want to make sure that all of you make yourselves at home, to which I’m sure some of you are thinking, ‘That’s been the plan all along,’” Obama quipped.
“But keep in mind what a wise man once wrote: ‘I am more than contented to be governor and shall not care if I never hold another office,’ ” Obama continued. “Of course, that was Teddy Roosevelt. So I guess plans change.”
The dinner reception Sunday night was packed with possible presidential hopefuls, including Democrats Martin O'Malley of Maryland and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, as well as Republicans Rick Perry of Texas, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Mike Pence of Indiana and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
Chris Christie, thought to be considering a White House bid despite the George Washington Bridge controversy, skipped the dinner to celebrate his daughter's birthday. But Vice President Biden, a possible contender for the Democratic nomination, was in attendance.
The following morning, Obama again chided the governors about their presidential aspirations.
"I enjoyed watching some of you with your eyes on higher office size up the drapes — and each other," Obama joked on Monday.
Hinting that some of the lawmakers had enjoyed the dinner and cocktail reception, Obama admitted that "one good thing about living here is making all the noise you want, and nobody is going to say a thing."
Obama also asked the governors to help him in moving policy goals even when there was “little appetite in Congress.”
“At the state level, you guys are governed by practical considerations. You want to do right by your people,” Obama said.
He pressed Republican governors to accept a Medicaid expansion in their states, pledging the federal government would be flexible with them in implementing the program. Some Republicans have blocked the expansion out of political opposition to ObamaCare, and concern the federal government won't continue to cover the associated costs.
“Work with us to help get this done,” Obama pleaded.
He also applauded six states that have moved to increase the minimum wage in the past year.
“Several of you are trying to boost your workers' wages. I'm going … to support those efforts,” Obama said.
— This story was updated at 11:46 a.m.