Christie crosses river to talk to watchdog group

PHILADELPHIA - November 23, 2010

Christie, a first-term Republican who has quickly become one of the big names nationally in the party, spoke Tuesday to the Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia corporate-sponsored government and election watchdog.

"I'm a Republican in New Jersey, I am playing with house money. You could do everything perfect for the next three years and given the demographics, I could end up losing if I chose to run again," he said. "It frees you up not to be a panderer, not to be an incrementalist."

He said the Republicans who won so many seats in elections across the country earlier this month should follow his lead and take on big issues if they don't want to be ousted in the next election.

Christie has gotten wide attention for closing an $11 billion budget gap even though the income taxes on the highest-earning New Jerseyans were reduced just before he took office.

He made deep cuts in spending, and has taken on the state's teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, which he characterized Tuesday as a bully.

"You could do what previous governors have done, and sidle up to the bully and whisper sweet nothings in their ear," he said, "Or you can punch them first."

The NJEA says it's Christie's who's the bully.

His speech was similar to the ones he has been giving in town-hall meetings across New Jersey for the last two months and in campaign stops across the nation, which have fueled speculation that he's a potential presidential contender.

Christie has said he does not plan to run for president in 2012, but that hasn't stopped him from appearing on Sunday morning news talk shows, cable news networks.

He was scheduled to make his late-night comedy television debut early Wednesday with an appearance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."

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