Christie: Economy, gridlock menace U.S. future

September 28, 2011

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie charged Tuesday that an indecisive White House has deepened the nation’s economic pain, and he accusedPresident Obama of preparing to divide the country to win re-election next year.

The Republican governor, who has dismissed encouragement that he will enter the 2012 presidential race, also warned in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library that the nation’s credibility abroad was being damaged by troubles at home.

He didn’t spare Congress: In a scathing indictment of Beltway politics, he said the failure to compromise, along with Obama’s lack of leadership, had set the country dangerously off course.

In Washington “we drift from conflict to conflict, with little or no resolution. We watch a president who once talked about the courage of his convictions, but still has yet found the courage to lead,” Christie said.

“We watch a Congress at war with itself because they are unwilling to leave campaign-style politics at the Capitol’s door. The result is a debt-ceiling limitation debate that made our democracy appear as if we could no longer effectively govern ourselves,” he said.

The speech — delivered at a shrine to America’s 40th president, with former first lady Nancy Reagan in the audience — came during a three-day national trip in which the governor is raising money for Republicans and networking with party rainmakers.

With a reputation as a blunt-talking budget-cutter, the Reagan stage gave Christie the opportunity to extend his influence in a party that views him as a rising star. His remarks could stoke a fresh round of speculation about his White House ambitions, but his brother was the latest confidante to tamp down talk of a presidential bid.

“I’m sure that he’s not going to run,” Todd Christie told The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. The newspaper also reported that the governor told wealthy donors earlier Tuesday in Santa Ana that he was not entering the race, echoing his previous statements.

Christie, the first Republican elected New Jersey governor since 1997, repeatedly contrasted Reagan’s leadership skills with the dysfunction in Washington. Obama has positioned himself as a compromiser and deal-maker, but Christie cited his work in Trenton as the successful model, saying “leadership and compromise is the only way you reform New Jersey’s pension and health benefits system.”

“The image of the United States around the world is not what it was,” Christie said. “This country pays a price whenever our economy fails to deliver rising living standards to our citizens, which is exactly what has been the case for years now.

“We pay a price when our political system cannot come together and agree on the difficult but necessary steps to rein in entitlement spending or reform our tax system,” he added.

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