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Presidential hopefuls, or not, at Republican retreat

Sun colleague Jean Marbella reports:

Another meal -- this time, lunch -- and another feeding for the media beast at the House Republican retreat being held at the Marriott Waterfront hotel in Inner Harbor East. With reporters not actually allowed inside any of the actual sessions, we await members and guests either holding press conferences, or snag them individually in the lobby.

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This post-prandial feeding came at the hands of three GOP governors said to be mulling 2012 presidential bids -- Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Rick Perry of Texas and Bob McDonnell of Virginia. Introduced by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, each took the podium in a ballroom here to denounce what they called federal overstepping on states' responsibilities, particularly the new health care mandates and environmental regulations.

"This administration wants to come in and control your state," Perry said.

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"This election," Barbour said of the November midterms that tipped the House majority from Democrat to Republican, "undoubtedly was a repudiation of President Obama's policies."

"It's unsustainable," McDonnell said of what he called the unfunded mandates related to the health care reform act.

None, however, admitted to harboring a direct challenge to Obama's presidency in 2012."I'm going to get through my day job before looking for my next job," Barbour said.

"That one, no," Perry said as he dashed in an elevator as he was asked if he was running for president.

Cantor said the governors were invited to speak to the House members as an acknowledgment of a central GOP tenet: "We don't believe all good ideas come out of Washington."


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