An otherwise-civil conversation between President Obama and the nation's governors turned chilly when the topic of proposed military cuts came up, according to one Republican in the room.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the tone of the governors' meeting with Obama "completely changed" when the proposed cuts came up.
"It automatically went into an aggressive nature by him, implying that, 'Many of you have asked for cuts, this is what you said you wanted. Don't start coming and now complaining that these cuts are now affecting you because you said you wanted it, now you're going to get it and have to live with it,'" Haley said of the exchange, apparently toward the end of the meeting.
“It really is a slap in the face to anyone who has served multiple times over the past decade and left their life to do this,” added Haley, whose husband is a reservist who recently returned from a stint abroad.
Monday’s meeting came on the immediate heels of a series of personnel cuts proposed by the Defense Department. Army personnel would shrink to pre-World War II levels as part of the Pentagon's blueprint to restructure the military after protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed additional misgivings about what effect the cuts would have on states' national guards.
"The idea that the guard is going to take this reduction because the rest of the active duty military is taking this -- it really falls hard upon governors," he said at the Republican Governors Association (RGA) after the White House meeting. "I hope that we're not about to make a tragic mistake by hollowing out the guards in our states."
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, R, suggested that any cuts to military personnel should apply proportionally to the regular Army, since its ranks swelled the most during the military engagements of the last decade.