New Jersey governor Chris Christie blasted President Barack Obama today, calling his comments at the White House "the core difference between who we are and what he represents for America."
Obama "was talking about why job growth hasn't been as robust as it should be," Christie told a cheering crowd at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago. "He said one of the reasons is because state and local government hiring is going in the wrong direction. I swear to you, that's what he said just a couple of hours ago. Now in New Jersey we have more government workers per square mile than any state in America, but since I've been governor we now have fewer people on the state payroll than at any time since Christie Whitman left office in January of 2001. That's the right direction, Mr. President, not the wrong direction."
CPAC is meeting in Chicago this weekend; its speaker and guest list resemble a reunion of this spring's Republican primary candidates or a veepstakes convention, with Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal in attendance. The New Jersey Democrats even put out a teasing web video Friday saying their governor was "auditioning" to be Romney's running mate at the conference.
Obama said at a White House press conference this morning, "If Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is how do we help state and local governments." In his signature style, Christie railed against this, saying it defines the current battle between Republican and Democrats.
"I remind my staff of this every day, and I want to remind you all today, the most powerful thing on our side is this we're right and they're wrong," Christie said. "So let's not make it any more complicated."
"It is an outrage to have the president of the United States stand up and say to hardworking governors, to Republicans and Democrats around the country that state and local government hiring is moving in the wrong direction and we're to blame because the economy is not growing," Christie said. "He's the one who put forward an ineffective wasteful stimulus plan that did nothing to help this economy. He's the one who saddled us with all these federal rules and regulations that don't allow governors to have the freedom to do what we really want and then he has the audacity to stand up this morning and say it's the nation's governors and the nation's mayors who are driving our economy down by not hiring enough people for government work."
Christie told the crowd if they "need to understand with any more clarity the difference between conservative Republican principals and this president, you don't need to listen to one more word in this campaign than what he said behind that podium at the White House today."
Republicans have jumped on the president's statement since he gave it, especially pouncing on his comment that "the private sector is doing fine," seeking to paint the president as out of touch and clueless as to what is causing the economic problems in the country. The RNC even distributed the comments in web video just minutes after the press conference.