Maryland governor Martin O’Malley said Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry “seceded” from the National Governors Association (NGA), of which O'Malley is a member. The Democratic governor made the tongue-in-cheek remark to reporters in Washington this morning at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor when asked about the Texas governor.

“You know, [Perry] seceded from the National Governors Association, and Texas is not a dues-paying member of the National Governors Association,” O’Malley said with a slight grin. “In fact, one of the unwritten stories is the number of Republican states that have seceded from the National Governors Association. But fortunately, we had several governors from China who came and no doubt paid in order to talk to us. We were grateful for their largesse and their contributions.”

Perry is listed on the NGA's website, though he did lead an effort among some Republican governors earlier this year to stop paying their dues to the bipartisan organization. Perry is the former chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and O'Malley is the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. Neither of those groups is associated formally with the NGA.

O’Malley went on to say that he found Perry “affable, friendly, [and] pleasant” during their only meeting. The Maryland Democrat also said that he supports Perry’s policy of allowing the children of illegal immigrants to be afforded in-state tuition if their parents pay state income taxes. “Just because we can’t overcome our current affliction of xenophobia and have a rational immigration policy again is no reason to condemn hard-working kids and people that are trying to play by the rules and are paying their taxes to a life with lesser opportunity and a lesser level of learning,” O’Malley said. “I do think Perry’s right about that…I do admire his willingness to stand up to the immigrant bashers and the thinly-veiled racism and scapegoating that's so rampant in their party and directed at new Americans."

The former mayor of Baltimore, the 48-year-old O’Malley was first elected Maryland’s governor in 2006 and was reelected last year. He is among those Democrats considered to be plausible future presidential candidates. O’Malley answered several questions about national politics this morning.

O'Malley also expressed his belief that congressional Republicans are obstructing the president for their own political benefit. “I firmly believe that Republicans in Congress, driven by a concerted group, have decided that it is not in their party’s political interest to have the president succeed in creating any jobs,” he said. “And I believe therefore they will do their very best to deny him any victories that could lead to job creation or a speedier recovery.” O’Malley also said there was not “another rational explanation” for the GOP’s opposition to the president.

He also spoke at length about the 2012 presidential election, saying that it will come down to a decision between which one the American people believe is “most committed to job creation.” O’Malley said he believes neither of the Republican front-runners, Perry or Mitt Romney, have a credible plan for the economy.

“Neither of them has offered policies that are terribly different than the ones that got us into this mess,” O’Malley said. “I don’t think either of them has a concept of engagement that is more compelling than ours.”

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