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Villaraigosa may campaign for Obama in the South, West

March 7, 2012 | 10:50 am

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, right, joins Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday to call for quick passage of the surface transportation bill in the Senate. Credit: AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa could be hitting the road to campaign for President Obama’s reelection, he said Wednesday during his latest trip to Washington.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, in a lunch with Villaraigosa on Tuesday, raised the possibility of the mayor traveling to states such as Virginia, Iowa, Nevada, Florida, North Carolina and Colorado, Villaraigosa said at Politico’s Playbook Breakfast at the Newseum.

No travel plans have yet been set, and each request will be evaluated based on the mayor's commitments in Los Angeles and the campaign's best sense of how the mayor can be helpful, said a Villaraigosa spokesman.

Asked about possible criticism of his travel, Villaraigosa said in an interview: "You take heat everyday in a job like this. I’m not going on vacation. I’m working."

Villaraigosa, recently selected chairman of this summer's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., was already in campaign mode at the breakfast.

He warned that the Republican Party could go the way of the Whigs and assailed its presidential candidates for "moving further and further away from the mainstream."  Singling out Mitt Romney for criticism for allying with anti-immigration crusader Kris Kobach, the mayor said that the GOP is "going to lose the Latino electorate and they’re going to lose it for some time."

"You get the sense that Mr. Romney will say anything to get elected," the mayor said.

Villaraigosa said he was "sick and tired" of the partisanship in Washington, complaining about the fight holding up a transportation bill that includes a measure crucial to his plans to expand the Los Angeles region’s transportation system. "It seems that every year, this place gets more partisan," he said.

"People are upset with both parties…. People want us to work together."

Later on Capitol Hill, Villaraigosa joined Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in calling for the transportation bill’s passage, declaring, "The nation’s mayors are frustrated with this Congress."

The mayor, who’s also gained a higher national profile as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, once again declined to speculate about his political plans once his mayoral term ends in June 2013, saying that once he leaves City Hall, it will be a "time for little reflection."

"You never know. Obviously, things can come up," he said, adding that he also is thinking of writing and giving speeches. "But for now, I’m thinking about taking a little time out."


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-- Richard Simon at The Times' Washington Bureau

Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joins Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to call for quick passage of the surface transportation bill in the Senate. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press