The two met at Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion shortly before the president unveiled his sweeping student debt proposal.
Deal, a Republican who steered clear of Obama during his re-election campaign, said he thanked Obama for federal support for Georgia's top economic development project - the dredging of Savannah's port - and for giving him props for a criminal justice overhaul at a speech to governors last month.
He also dropped in a plug for his bid to give the state sweeping new powers to intervene in failing schools. The plan, which is now pending in Georgia's House, would create a new statewide school district to oversee some of Georgia's most distressed schools.
"I told him what we were doing with the Opportunity School District, and if we get it passed, we're probably going to call on him to help with it."
Asked about the president's reaction, the governor left out any details of the education plan.
"He said he was glad to be able to support the port, he understands the importance of it. And he thanked me for the criminal justice reform."