Some Republican governors didn’t want to talk about immigration – after all, they said, it’s a federal issue – but most couldn’t help themselves Thursday.
Hours before President Barack Obama was to discuss his latest action to ease the nation’s immigration crisis, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told reporters “He’s purposely trying to distract the American people” from debates over economic, energy and other issues.
Walker and others were attending a Republican Governors Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida. For awhile, the governors tried to avoid the matter. At a morning session on issues confronting governors, moderater Haley Barbour, a former Mississippi governor, said the topic was not a matter for this group.
Governors avoided it for awhile, but Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott brought up the need for better border security. He predicted the Obama order would “re-ignite” passions about immigration, and not in a positive way.
The floodgates would open later in the day at another session. This time, governors took turns bashing Obama.
“It is clear he is overreaching and abusing his power,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. “It is in violation of his statutory and constitutional responsibilities.”
Obama is “just throwing a hand grenade in a room that doesn’t allow discussion,” added Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, slated to become the next RGA chairman.
Walker was the most adamant that Obama was overreaching. “If you went on the campaign trail, none of us heard this issue,” he insisted. Obama, he said, had “hijacked the agenda” that voters sought on other issues.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s tone was somewhat softer. He urged Obama and Republicans to sit down and work things out.
“You can’t move forward in a country where you’re fighting with each other and questioning each other’s motives,” he said.