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Democrats enthusiastic at governors' conference

WASHINGTON -- Democratic governors are bullish on President Barack Obama's re-election prospects, citing the improving economy and a Republican nominating contest that has exposed deep divisions in the GOP's base.

Republican governors insist that Obama is vulnerable but say they are concerned that the prolonged primary race has alienated independent voters and may have badly damaged the eventual nominee.

Democratic enthusiasm and Republican apprehension were both on display at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, an annual four-day conference where states' top executives gather to discuss policy and trade ideas on best practices but where politics are always close to the surface.

Even Democratic governors of some typically tossup -- or "purple" -- states, said they like Obama's chances.

"In a purple state, people want to see results and they also want to see a level of collaboration and teamwork. I think he is going to win Colorado," the state's governor, John Hickenlooper, said.

Meanwhile, virtually no Republican governors were willing to predict that their party's nominee would prevail in November.