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Story highlights

Several high-profile GOP governors met at a gathering for the first time since Trump's victory

Most set aside the topic of the President-elect himself at the event

(CNN) —  

Republican governors said they were “giddy” Tuesday over the prospect of more control of federal education, health care and transportation dollars under a Donald Trump administration.

At the first major gathering of Republicans since Trump’s victory, high-profile governors largely set aside the topic of the President-elect himself.

Instead, they said they’re thrilled that the GOP controls both Congress and the White House. And they’re excited about the promotion within their own ranks, with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence set to become vice president.

“I’m just giddy, and if you talk to any of the governors here, we are so excited at the possibility and the opportunities that are going to be here,” said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

“The idea that now we can start to really govern – I have never known what it’s like to have a Republican president. I can tell you that the last five years, Washington has been the hardest part of my job,” Haley said. “This is a new day.”

Haley added that “one of the things I’m most excited about” is Pence’s election as vice president.

“It’s exciting for the governors to be able to finally say, ‘Yes, we can do this,’” she said.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker credited “big and bold” GOP governors’ reforms with handing the party at least 34 governor’s offices and said it’s “why Donald Trump was able to win on Tuesday.”

“We have shown that actions speak louder than words,” he said, adding that he wants the Trump administration to follow GOP governors’ lead.

He said there was “love for Trump and hate for the other candidate” in manufacturing- and energy-heavy states.

Haley and Walker’s comments were notable because the two opposed Trump – with Haley both criticizing and antagonizing Trump while campaigning in the GOP primary with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Walker running against the President-elect in the Republican primary and later criticizing Trump’s controversial remarks.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said he’s “completely thrilled” that the GOP fully controls Congress with “someone of our own stripe, Mike Pence,” guiding Trump in the White House.

He said shifting control of federal dollars to states for education, health care and transportation are priorities.

“To me, it’s wide open and it’s exciting. It seems to be a very bright day,” Ducey said, while warning that Republicans should also have “humility” and acknowledge the party hasn’t fully capitalized on its windows of full control of the government in recent decades.

“We cannot squander this opportunity. We have to act with purpose,” he said.

The four governors were part of a panel discussion at the first public event of the Republican Governors Association’s annual meeting here.

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They each credited Trump with seizing on economic frustration and a sense that Washington has stalled.

“I think the message of a complete outsider, a non-politician and a business man in a change election was extremely powerful,” Ducey said, crediting Trump for tapping into voter frustration with Washington.

“Anybody that wants to get up on Monday morning and go to work for a living – these are people we should be talking to,” he said.

Hutchinson noted that Trump’s own allies and supporters urged him to stay on message during the campaign.

“People are going to be pulling for him to be successful, because he is our president,” Hutchinson said. “And I’m hopeful that just like he was pragmatic in the campaign, he’ll be pragmatic as president.”