In the aftermath of the government shutdown, it's clear that many of the nation's Republican governors are disgusted by the performance of GOP lawmakers in Congress. But they don't say it in so many words. Instead, recently meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. at their annual conference, they expressed growing weariness with "Washington, D.C." and declared that if anything good is to happen in politics, it will be done by Republican governors, and not politicians in the nation's capital.
"It's pure insanity, what's coming out of there," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said of Washington.
"Chaos," said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
"Dysfunction," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The new chairman of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey's Chris Christie, joined in, noting an "incredible contrast between what you see being discussed here (at the governors meeting) ... as opposed to what's going on in Washington, D.C."
The governors were quick to note that of course they also mean Democrats when they slam Washington. But there's no doubt the steady barrage of abuse directed at the capital quite specifically includes the leaders of their own party.
"We're criticizing everybody," said Christie. "My feeling has always been that when a Republican deserves criticism, he or she gets it. When a Democrat deserves criticism, he or she gets it."
"It's not that we don't like them personally, it's that we don't like the job they're doing," added Haley.
It's an easy and virtually risk-free attack, given that the target, Congress, has an approval rating in the single digits. But the governors really do view themselves as the only Republican success story going right now. The GOP controls 29 governorships, covering a majority of the American population. They're hoping to make that majority even bigger in a bunch of gubernatorial contests coming in 2014.
But politics being politics, there are also eyes on 2016. And all the Washington-bashing sends a clear message about the upcoming presidential race. Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rep. Paul Ryan, along with other Washington lawmakers, are all fine fellows, but the governors want to see a chief executive become the Republican nominee for the White House.
"It's the right experience for being president," said North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
"Governors are better suited to be in the White House," said Utah's Gary Herbert. "We're executive branch people. We actually have to do things."
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