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13 governors-elect meet Trump at White House ahead of inaugurations

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
President Donald Trump meets with 13 governors-elect Thursday at the White House. Photo by Chris Kleponis
President Donald Trump meets with 13 governors-elect Thursday at the White House. Photo by Chris Kleponis | License Photo

Dec. 14 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump met at the White House Thursday with all the new governors-elect, to discuss some of the larger issues in their states.

In all, 13 new governors-designate from both sides of the aisle attended the meeting with Trump, White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Health Secretary Alex Azar and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

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"We have invited the nation's -- our great nation's -- newly elected governors," Trump said. "They're going to do a wonderful job."

Among the incoming leaders who met with the president Thursday are Ron DeSantis of Florida, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Brad Little of Idaho, Albert Bryan of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Lou Guerrero of Guam,

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DeSantis thanked Trump for his support in rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael in October.

"There are great folks there," DeSantis said.

The devastation from the hurricane made it clear that a new reservoir is needed south of Lake Okeechobee. DeSantis thanked Trump for supporting that project, but said the Army Corps of Engineers has taken too long.

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"We'd like to be able to speed some of this up with the Army Corps," DeSantis said. "I know you'll be supportive of that. And you've been real supportive of Florida. So, thank you."

Trump said this project has been on the books for 30 years.

"We are very much involved with Lake Okeechobee," he said. "And a lot of problems in Florida can be solved by doing that properly. They've been trying to do it for 30 years. So, we'll get it done."

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Kemp also thanked Trump for his response to Hurricane Michael.

"It's going great on the ground," he said. "Long recovery, but we appreciate the response and interest that you guys have shown."

Kemp, a Republican, won a highly-contested race against Democrat Stacy Abrams, who didn't concede until 10 days after the election.

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Whitmer said she talked with Trump about increased spending for roads and relief from tariffs that are hurting the state's auto and farm industries -- and said she raised the issue of tariffs with Ross.

Whitmer also said she plans to meet with General Motors CEO Mary Barra next week and has a few suggestions about "future uses for the empty plant in Hamtramck, if the proposed GM [plant] closures go ahead."

"I ask you, President Trump, to please do not forget Guam out there," Guerrero said. "We're a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but I think we're the first line of defense for our country."

The United States has a military base in Guam.

Some newly-elected governors skipped the meeting, including Ned Lamont of Connecticut, who said he was too busy with transition issues -- and Laura Kelly of Kansas, who said she's busy preparing to take office next month.

During the meeting Thursday afternoon, Trump said he's narrowed the search for a new White House chief of staff to five names.

"Really good ones. Terrific people. Mostly well-known, but terrific people," he said.

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