WASHINGTON — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had some harsh words for Washington, D.C. Monday night, telling a group of CEOs that “both parties” in Washington are the problem, but still harshly criticizing the GOP when it comes to working across the aisle and the government shutdown.
“It’s about human relationships, the fact of the matter is nobody in this city talks to each other anymore and if they do talk to each other it’s not civilly. They don’t develop relationships, they don’t develop any sense of trust between each other,” Christie said at the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council conference.
In an almost 40-minute question and answer session with the Wall Street Journal’s Editor in Chief Gerard Baker, he asked Christie what he would change in Washington. Christie didn’t hesitate answering, “The people, predominantly.”
“You have to compromise at times,” Christie said, who is just coming off of a landslide victory in New Jersey. “If I walk away with 70 percent of my agenda, then New Jersey is 70 percent better than it would have been otherwise.”
He blamed President Obama because “he has not developed the relationships that are necessary on a personal level on both sides of the aisle,” but said “what we have unfortunately in Washington on both sides of the aisle at times are absolutists.”
As for the government shutdown, he said “both sides” were to blame, but as for his own party said, “I think there were a number of people in Congress on the Republican side of the aisle who just did not have an end-game strategy.”
When asked if he was referring to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who like Christie may also have possible presidential ambitions, he declined to name names, but said in his direct style, “Since Obamacare is still currently being funded and the government is reopened maybe I’m too cynical, but it appears to me the strategy of defunding it by closing the government failed.”
“There are some people who believe it was the right thing to do, that’s fine, they can believe it’s the right thing to do, you can rail against Obamacare and be opposed to it as I have been in New Jersey,” Christie said, adding the job of lawmakers is not to close government.
“Your job in running the government is to run it and run it effectively and efficiently, and all the people down here from the president and the leadership in Congress who engages in this stuff failed by definition,” he added.
When asked how the GOP became associated as the party connected to the government shutdown, Christie held nothing back answering, “Bad decision making and a loss of courage,” but said “Democrats were as guilty.”
“I’m fine with the Republican Party taking their share of the blame, but I am not fine with the Republican Party taking all the blame because Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi played as many games as the folks on the Republican side did,” Christie said.
When asked if he will make up his mind about whether he will run for president in 2016, Christie said “when I have to,” but he doesn’t know when that may be.
Christie said there are “a number of people who would make really good presidents.” The governor declined to name names, saying it “depends on the politics of the time” and stressing “this is a long, way away.” Christie add that he “feel(s) bad for President Obama” because “he just won a year ago and everybody’s like, ‘So who’s next?’”
“There is still work to be done in this country and as we shove him out the door we minimize his ability to be an effective executive and we shouldn’t do that so I’m not rushing…I’ll make that decision when I have to,” he added.
Christie said he plans to serve a full second term as governor unless he decides to run for president and win in the general election.
“If I decide to run for president and win I won’t, if I don’t then I will. I don’t have to make that decision now,” Christie said. “If you make a decision before it’s the right time to make them you increase geometrically the chance to screw that decision up, it’s not something I want to screw up.”
Christie said he doesn’t feel like he has “to do any fence mending” within his own party, who have expressed concern he may not be conservative enough.
“I’m going be me and if I ever decide to run for anything again and being me isn’t good enough then fine I’ll go home. This isn’t my whole life,” he said.
He was asked by a CEO in the audience what it would take for a Republican to beat Hillary Clinton and if he could do it. He answered that he has “no idea” if he can, but described the candidate that he believes would be successful.
“I think we have to stop as a party to all the tried and true ways of running these kinds of campaigns. They aren’t working and we need someone who will be clear, direct, authentic and say what they think,” Christie, who will take over as head of the Republican Governors Association later this week, said.
President Obama, as well as other high profile politicians, cabinet secretaries and other notable speakers, will address the Wall Street Journal forum during the two day event.