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Republican governors worry about divisive GOP primary race

Republican governors say they are concerned the prolonged primary race has alienated independent voters and may have badly damaged the eventual nominee.

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks with reporters during the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012.

Cliff Owen/AP

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Democratic governors are bullish on President Barack Obama's re-election prospects, citing the improving economy and a Republican nominating contest that has exposed deep divisions in the party's base.

Republican governors insist Obama is vulnerable, but they say they are concerned the prolonged primary race has alienated independent voters and may have badly damaged the eventual nominee.

Democratic enthusiasm and Republican apprehension were both on display at the winter meeting of the National Governor's Association, an annual four-day conference where states' top executives gather to discuss policy and trade ideas on best practices but where politics is always close to the surface.

In interviews, many Democratic governors seemed almost giddy about Obama's chances of winning a second term.

They pointed to the improving employment figures, which have helped raise state revenues after years of painful budget cuts. The national unemployment rate stood at 8.3 percent in January, down from a high of 10 percent in October 2009.

"These Republicans that are running for president, they're so depressing. Cheer up!" Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said after Democratic governors left a White House meeting with Obama. "We've got some good news: a great president creating jobs, and governors who are seeing revenues rebound."

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