Heard on the Hill

A Kildee Comeuppance? Or More Obama Aloofness?

Updated March 15, 6:28 p.m. | Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee has been in Congress for a little more than two months, and today the leader of the free world gave him a gentle ribbing about just how new he is to Capitol Hill.

At a closed-door meeting between President Barack Obama and House Democrats, Kildee introduced himself as a freshman, to which Obama said, “Wow, you’re really classing up the place then.”

Kildee then proceeded to ask what one person described as a somewhat “long-winded” question about the importance of creating jobs for his economically distraught district.

Amid the resulting laughter, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California then offered to provide Kildee a printout of the speech.

Obama was referring to his $1 billion proposal for 15 manufacturing “innovation centers,” the details of which are still somewhat hazy.

Actually, though, the joke was on Obama: On Wednesday, Kildee had met with the White House legislative affairs team about the innovation centers proposal, so he was quite familiar with it.

And his question was broader, about what types of reforms are necessary to reform decaying urban centers like Flint, Mich., which Kildee represents.

“Dan wasn’t specifically talking about innovation centers in his question,” a spokesman said.

Updated 6:28 p.m.

Kildee appeared on CNN on Friday afternoon to talk about the incident, saying he doesn't mind the president teasing him a little.