The nation’s Democratic governors expressed support Friday for President Barack Obama’s efforts to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, while criticizing the GOP’s focus on social issues.
Speaking outside the West Wing after a morning of meetings with Obama and White House officials, the governors expressed the need for raising the minimum wage at the federal level, characterizing it as a benefit for women in particular.
“The overwhelming majority of Americans think that raising the minimum wage is a good idea,” Obama said before he met with the governors in the State Dining Room. “That is true for independents; that is true for Democrats; and it’s true for Republicans.”
Separately, Vice President Joe Biden dropped in on a meeting with administration officials and four Democratic governors working to raise their states’ minimum wages. Democrats, hoping to unseat Republican incumbents in states that voted for Obama in 2012, are betting that the focus-group-tested “Opportunity for All” message will carry their candidates across the finish line in November.
“We don’t know whether it’s a winning argument,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. “We know it’s the right thing to do.”
On Thursday, at a gathering of Democratic donors to the DGA, Obama bemoaned lack of focus on state races, as his White House refocuses to help Democratic candidates in this year’s midterm elections. “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.”
After the White House meeting, Shumlin criticized Republicans for focusing on social issues instead of creating opportunity. ”Republican governors have been distracted by a more radical social agenda that gives tax cuts to the wealthy, asks the middle class to pay for them, while they cut education and the opportunities that will allow us to grow jobs in this great nation,” he said. “While they do that, they seem more focused on passing polices that alienate women, minorities, immigrants, gays, and other Americans.”