As governors from across the country continued shuttling from one discussion to another in ballrooms at the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington, about 500 pro-union protesters picketed outside.
"Hey! Ho! Scott Walker's got to go!" They chanted, holding picket signs reading, "Stand with Wisconsin."
"It is not the workers that are the problem," said Joslyn Williams of the AFL-CIO. "It is America's corporate giants that are the problem. They are making trillions of dollars, and where is that money going to? In the pockets of investors."
Meanwhile inside, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker was a no-show at the meeting of the NGA Health and Human Services Committee, a discussion he was scheduled to chair.
The meeting opened with a videotaped greeting from Walker, who apologized for not attending in person, although he gave no specific reason for his absence.
Walker also made no mention of the massive political battle he is locked in with union members over collective bargaining rights back in Wisconsin.
"While there are many issues before us, probably none will be more important than Medicaid," said Walker. "Of our $3.6 billion budget deficit in Wisconsin, $1.8 billion is Medicaid. ... It's unsustainable."
Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour was also in the meeting and threw his support behind Walker.
"The American people are looking for leaders who will be plain-spoken, with common sense and trust the public enough to tell them the truth," said Barbour. "The truth is as Scott Walker says, Wisconsin's broke."
Barbour has said he is mulling a possible run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination and will make a final decision after the conclusion of his state's legislative session, which ends in April.