New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared cautious about the chances of the Republican gubernatorial candidates in the midterm elections this year, saying that 12 races are too close to call, while offering a tease about a potential 2016 presidential candidacy of his own in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I’ve been involved with these races more than anybody on our side of the aisle,” Christie said of the midterm elections. “I think we’re going to come through this very, very well.”
Christie was interviewed while in Florida, where he is campaigning for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, as the Palm Beach Post reported. The incumbent is tied in the polls with Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.
Christie, head of the Republican Governors Association, made his first appearance on a Sunday-morning television talk show since he came under fire after members of his administration helped orchestrate closing highway lanes onto the George Washington Bridge, creating traffic havoc.
His role as head of the RGA has long been viewed as a springboard to a likely 2016 campaign since it allows him to flex his fundraising prowess and draw crowds as he stumps for candidates across the country, as noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The New Jersey governor offered no definitive guidance about his plans for 2016.
“I don’t know, I haven’t made up my mind. I won’t make up my mind until the beginning of next year,” Christie said. “I’m not being coy about it. I’m obviously thinking about it but I won’t make any decision until next year.”
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace asked Christie whether his recent remarks that a governor would be best suited to be president was an attack on his potential GOP primary foes, U.S. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Christie denied he was engaging in 2016 campaigning, but stuck to the criticism.
“This was a direct commentary on the record of the last six years and unfortunately the fact that somebody who has never run anything bigger than a Senate staff may not have the best training in the world to run the biggest government in the world,” Christie said.
Christie also refuted the idea that he was doing less this year to help Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker win re-election because he could be a potential 2016 GOP primary candidate as well, as recently mentioned by the Weekly Standard. Christie and Walker first bonded when they both came under fire from unions for cuts to public-employee benefits. Christie pointed out the RGA has spent $6 million helping Walker.
“Scott and I have a great personal relationship,” Christie said. “I’ll be going next week to campaign for him two different times.”
Christie responded to criticism that surfaced this week when he told a group at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that he was “tired” of hearing about the minimum wage. Christie said he wasn’t backing down from his earlier remarks and that the nation should be discussing “opportunity inequality” instead of “income inequality.”
“The debate we need to be having is how to have a better pro-growth economy that creates jobs and grows jobs,” Christie said. “The biggest problem is opportunity inequality and that’s what mothers and fathers are sitting around their tables talking about their future.”