President Obama faced a roomful of newly elected governors Thursday, many of them Republicans elected by railing against him, and told them states can only go so far in pushing the federal government out of the way.
"There are going to be times where we do believe that having basic national standards are going to be important. ... We need to maintain some consistency across the states," the president told an audience including Florida's governor-elect Rick Scott and South Carolina's governor-elect Nikki Haley.
Scott, Haley and others present ran successful campaigns against what they deemed the expanding reach of the federal government, arguing for overturning Obama's health care overhaul and canceling his economic stimulus spending. Their arguments won out and Republicans now control a majority of statehouses nationwide.
But Obama also said he welcomed their input on how to curb state and federal spending at a time of budget shortfalls.
"We're going to be interested in hearing from all of you about programs you think are working, but also programs that you think are not working," Obama said.
"Contrary to the mythology, believe it or not, it turns out that I would love to eliminate programs that don't work," he said.
Obama spoke to more than 20 newly elected governors who'd just finished lunch at the Blair House, the guest house across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.