Obama offers praise for Gov. Bill Haslam

Hosting the nation’s governors at the White House Monday, President Barack Obama singled out Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, as an example of a governor who had been able to compromise, prioritize and make “smart choices.”

Obama praised Haslam for maintaining a balanced budget in Tennessee without shorting funding for key areas like education. The president, locked in partisan debate over automatic cuts set to go into effect Friday, challenged the governors to view compromise as “essential to getting things done.”

“That’s how Gov. Bill Haslam balanced his budget last year in Tennessee while still investing in key areas like education for Tennessee’s kids,” Obama said. “Like the rest of us, they know we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. Cutting alone is not an economic policy; we’ve got to make the smart choices to cut what we don’t need so that we can invest in the things that we do need.”

To view the president’s remarks on Haslam, scroll ahead to the five-minute mark in the video above.

By “they,” Obama was referencing both Haslam and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, whom Obama said had “all but” eliminated his state’s deficit while keeping college tuition rates down.

According to a Chattanooga Times Free Press report, Haslam did not comment on the president’s remarks at a news conference after he returned to Tennessee early because of a “nonpublic family member’s” illness.

Monday was not the first time Haslam had received affirmation from the president. In September 2011, the governor stood alongside Obama at the White House as the president announced he would begin issuing waivers to remove states from education standards put in place by No Child Left Behind.