At meeting of nation’s governors, President Trump talks about nation’s issues, including school safety and opiod epidemic
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump welcomed the Nation’s Governors to the White House for a business session to discuss shared state-federal priorities, including infrastructure, workforce development, the opioid epidemic, and school safety.
Roughly 40 governors are at the White House for the governors’ conference.
During one of the sessions, the governor of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee, (D), spoke passionately about his conversations with teachers and pleaded with Trump to take his proposal to arm teachers off the table. Trump has suggested arming some teachers as a precaution against school shootings, calling it a “great deterrent.” Over the weekend, he suggested the proposal could be decided by states. He also has pushed for an end to bump-fire stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at a rapid rate, as well as comprehensive background checks to emphasize mental health.
“I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here and a little more listening and let’s just take (arming teachers) off the table and move forward,” Inslee said.
Trump pushed back at first, telling Inslee that his proposal would only arm a percentage of teachers, but not all, to which Inslee responded that he’d heard from teachers who don’t want to carry firearms.
“Whatever percentage it is, speaking as a grandfather, speaking as a governor of the state of Washington, I have listened to the people who would be affected by that. I have listened to the biology teachers and they don’t want to do that,” the Democratic governor said. “I have listened to the first-grade teachers who don’t want to be pistol-packing first-grade teachers. I have listened to law enforcement who have said they don’t want to have to train teachers as law enforcement agencies, which takes about six months.”
Inslee pleaded with Trump that lawmakers should listen to educators rather than urging teachers to “pack heat.”
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is not attending; his office announced last week that due to his indictment, he would not be attending. He also resigned from the executive committee of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), the association’s president confirmed on Friday.
“Governor Greitens informed us last night that he is going to remain in Missouri this weekend to fight back against what his team has called a baseless charge, and will not be attending the RGA’s winter meeting in Washington.,” said Paul Bennecke, RGA’s executive director. “Given his desire to focus his full attention on moving forward in Missouri, he also no longer intends to serve on the Executive Committee of the RGA. We look forward to a quick resolution of this issue. Our thoughts and prayers are with Governor Greitens and his family.”
Late Thursday afternoon, a St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens for felony invasion of privacy.
In January, right after Greitens’ State of the State address, KMOV-TV in St. Louis broke the story about Greitens’ affair with his St. Louis hairdresser. The woman’s ex-husband also said Greitens took a compromising picture of her that the man claimed Greitens planned to use against her if she went public with the affair.
Greitens released a statement saying he made a mistake in March 2015 before he was elected but “did not commit a crime.” He accused the Democratic prosecutor of playing politics. His attorneys have filed a motion to get the indictment dismissed. The basis of their argument for dismissal is that Greitens and his mistress were involved in a consensual relationship.
In 2018, there are 36 gubernatorial contests; 23 in Republican-held states.
“Everybody realizes that’s what is at stake,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. “While we think it’s really important who sits in every statehouse, there are also consequences for the national picture.”
This weekend, the Democratic Governors Association unveiled plans to spend $20 million in eight states — Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where governors play a key role in the redistricting process.
In those eight states combined, Republicans hold 26 more seats in Congress than Democrats — two more seats than the 24 Democrats need to flip to take control of the House of Representatives.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, the chair of the Democratic governors’ group, said Democrats are “excited, fired up” and expect “one of the best years we’ve had in a long time” in governors’ races.
Newly-elected New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said 2018 is “potentially an extraordinary year” for the party.
The biggest opportunities for Democrats come in states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 — starting with Illinois. Two Western states with term-limited Republican governors, Nevada and New Mexico, also present major opportunities. And in Maine, the departure of bombastic Republican Gov. Paul LePage makes for a top Democratic target.
Democrats are also trying to win back some traditional swing states that Trump captured in 2010 — including Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott is retiring and could run for the Senate; Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich is weighing a presidential run against Trump in 2020; and Michigan, where Gov. Rick Snyder is departing.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has also sounded alarm bells ahead of his re-election bid for a third term. And Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican seeking his second term, could see his race complicated by high turnout for competitive House and Senate contests in his marquee state.
At the National Governors Association meeting, Ducey said he’s staying relentlessly focused on state-level issues like growing entrepreneurship and educational attainment — an indication he’ll try to steer his race away from national themes and the President himself.
“The best thing you can do as a governor is have a record of accomplishment and achievement,” he said. “My job is in the state capitol and the 15 counties in the state of Arizona, not on the East Coast.”