Washington (CNN) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is keeping the heat on his state's teachers unions, declaring their leaders are "political thugs."
In an interview with ABC News that aired Wednesday, Christie said he puts blame on the unions for resisting change that he thinks will benefit students in the long run.
"I believe the teachers in New Jersey in the main are wonderful public servants that care deeply. But their union, their union are a group of political thugs," he said.
Specifically he blamed the unions for a recent round of teacher layoffs, an event that he says could have been avoided if union leaders agreed to a salary freezes last year.
"They chose to continue to get their salary increases rather than be part of the shared sacrifice," said Christie.
Christie's tough talk on unions has in part rocketed the New Jersey Republican to stardom within the ranks of the GOP and led many Republicans to clamor for a Christie presidential run in 2012.
But Christie, who has only been governor for a little over a year, insists 2012 is not his year.
"No, I'm not running for president," he said. "I don't feel ready in my heart to be president. And unless I do, I don't have any right offering myself to the people of this country."
"I don't want to participate in the vanity exercise just because people ask me to do it or because people say, 'You could win.' That's not the point," he added.
Meanwhile, those comments came the same day Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley – the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association – hammered Christie over the issue of jobs on the New Jersey governor's own turf.
"Probably the most disappointing of all – especially if you are a mom or dad looking for a job in New Jersey – is Governor Christie's totally dismissive attitude toward the very things that create jobs, the things that we can only do together – educating, innovating, and rebuilding our transportation infrastructure to create jobs," O'Malley said at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in New Brunswick Wednesday night.