President Obama told Democratic governors meeting in the nation's capital that there needs to be more of a focus on events in the states -- particularly as critical midterm elections approach.
"The challenge we have sometimes in politics is that the national politicians and the national races get all the attention," Obama told the governors at a dinner near the White House. "But so often, the action -- how our policies are actually impacting our constituents day to day -- are being determined by governors and state legislatures."
He said he'd tell Democrats "you got to pay attention to the states. You have to stay focused on what’s happening in the states, and you especially have to pay attention to what’s happening in the states during midterm elections."
This midterm is particularly key to the White House with Republicans well poised to win control of the Senate.
"We know how to win national elections, but all too often, it’s during these midterms where we end up getting ourselves into trouble, because I guess we don’t think it’s sexy enough," Obama said. "But the fact of the matter is, is that that’s where so much of the action is."
He touted Democratic governors for their policies and said they were "what we should be talking about as we’re supporting incumbent Democratic governors and candidates for Democratic governors across the country."
Republican governors, he said, "are implementing a different agenda. They’re pursuing the same top-down, failed economic policies that don’t help Americans get ahead. They’re paying for it by cutting investments in the middle class, oftentimes doing everything they can to squeeze folks who are bargaining on behalf of workers."
He singled out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for opposing a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage and noted the measure got 60 percent of the vote.
"Voters understood this is the right thing to do, and it will be good for the economy, not bad for the economy," he said.
He singled out for praise California Gov. Jerry Brown for signing the U.S.'s first $10 an hour minimum wage into law and praised Connecticut and Maryland governors Dan Malloy and Martin O’Malley for "fighting to raise their state’s wages.
"It’s no surprise then that most of the states that have a higher minimum wage, higher than the federal minimum wage, are governed by Democrats," he said.