Byron York

"I always prefer governors," said Haley, whose state holds an early GOP primary. And so, not incidentally, does Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, whose state starts the presidential voting.

"Being governor is the closest job in the United States to being president," added Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor whose counsel is widely sought among Republican politicos. "Most of us who've been governors think governors make better presidents, and President Obama is doing everything he can to prove us right."


Just about the only governors who demur on the question of whether a governor should be the Republican nominee are the governors who actually want to be the Republican nominee. Christie declined to answer the question, arguing that given the work ahead in 2014, Republicans "start thinking about 2016 at our own peril." Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is mulling a second shot at the nomination, also declined to answer, other than to repeat his old hope of making Washington "as inconsequential as possible" in American life.

Meanwhile, the denouncing of Washington goes on. Governors who once served in Congress -- Ohio's John Kasich, Indiana's Mike Pence, Oklahoma's Mary Fallin, Jindal, and several others -- all said they are glad to be gone from Washington.

"I don't quite know what's happened in Washington from the time I was there, when we actually could get some things done," said Kasich, who served in the House from 1983 to 2001. "But it's pretty bad."


Pence, who served from 2001 to January 2013, joked that if he only had a few years to live, he would choose to live them in Washington, because his time in the nation's capital felt like the longest of his life.

Yes, all the talk helps the governors portray themselves as Republican good guys. But it also highlights a growing breach inside the GOP: Congress versus everybody else. Republicans who can distance themselves from the unpopular Congress are taking every opportunity to do so. And those lawmakers who want to run for president could find very little support in the nation's statehouses.



Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner