Scottsdale, Arizona (CNN) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie deflected any questions about his 2016 political plans Thursday as he took the reins of the Republican Governors Association.
When asked about his possible bid for the next Republican presidential nomination at a news conference for the RGA's annual meeting, Christie stressed that his focus is on the here and now, not three years in the future.
"We have 36 races. We have 20 incumbent governors up in 2014. And I think, any one of us, in our individual capacity or many of us, as leaders of this organization, on the executive committee, start thinking about 2016 at our own peril but worse, at the peril of our own colleagues," said Christie, who earlier this month won re-election in a landslide in a state where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans.
Christie told reporters that his priority as RGA chairman is getting GOP governors elected and reelected by fundraising for ad dollars and getting out to the various states to campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidates.
The RGA chairman position is often seen as a stepping stone, allowing the governor who holds the position to campaign across the country, raising his or her profile and establishing connections that could help in a national primary and election campaign. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney held the post in 2006, just prior to his first run for the White House, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry served as RGA chairman in 2011, as he was launching his 2012 presidential bid.
Christie, whose national profile and poll numbers continue to rise, didn't see the chairmanship that way Thursday.
"2016 is a long way away and I'm two weeks out of a campaign. I'm not looking to speculate on other campaigns already. We've got 2014 to deal with. That's what we're going to deal with," he said.
But his new job will allow Christie to travel the campaign trail over the next year, and among the three dozen states holding gubernatorial contests next year are Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada, the states that kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.
Christie also managed to deflect a question about his feelings on immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship in a Senate bill passed over the summer that has gone nowhere in the GOP-controlled House.
While acknowledging "that we have a broken immigration system that needs to be fixed," Christie said any immigration bill would be decided in Washington and declined to give his own opinion.
Christie did however take the opportunity to point out what is likely to be a major theme in any presidential bid, his ability to work with a Democrat-controlled legislature and still get things done. Washington could learn a thing or two from that example, Christie said.
"Maybe they should look at what we have to go through every day," he said.
The new theme of the RGA first established by Christie's most immediate predecessor, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – also a possible 2016 contender – has been that it is in the statehouses, rather than Washington, D.C., that Republicans are showing leadership. Christie and fellow GOP Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Mike Pence of Indiana (who's also considered a possible White House hopeful) and Rick Scott of Florida continued that theme Thursday.
"The only thing we see exported out of D.C. is insanity," said Scott. "Republican governors are doing just the opposite."
Scott faces a tough reelection next year against former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist – a former Republican who's since switched to the Democratic party – who currently leads Scott in the most recent polling.
"While D.C talks, governors act," said Haley, who also blasted what she characterized as Washington interference in state operations. She noted the Department of Justice lawsuit seeking to block voter identification laws in South Carolina.
For Christie, Washington does a lot of talking without getting much done.
"People are tired of talk and they want results," he said.
The willingness to criticize all of D.C. – which means Republicans as well as Democrats – has put Christie at odds with national Republicans, resulting in high profile spats, most notably with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who like Christie is considered a likely White House contender.
Christie did not back down Thursday when a reporter noted that his criticism of Washington means a criticism of his own party.
"I'm criticizing everybody. The fact is that these folks have a responsibility to run the government, that's what they were sent there to do. And to try to solve problems that are national problems. I think that the frustration that many of us feel is that they're a headwind rather than a tailwind and that's not productive for the citizens that we're all privileged to represent," Christie said.
"I think what people expect out of us is honesty. Governors, different than a lot of folks who spend most of their time in Washington, we have people in our states who know us. And who directly question us about these issues and they expect us to tell them the truth. My view's always been that when a Republican deserves criticism, he or she gets it. When a Democrat deserves criticism, he or she gets it. If they deserve praise, they get it too," Christie added.
–CNN's Bryan Koenig and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.
Too bad you couldn't help good ole' Bob McCorrupt & the Cooch. Your republican governors have a lot of explaining to do. Rick Scott, John Kasich & Rick Snyder are going down. There's nothing besides for gerrymandering & voter surpression that you can do to stop these guys from getting the boot.
I am trying to sign up for the republican health care plan, but cannot locate Cruz Care, Boehner Care, Koch Care, or the Fox Care websites. They must still be down.
Chris Christie needs time , he has some big messes to clean up .
i agree. focus like a laser beam on 2014 and obamacare and get as many democrats out of office as possible in order to repeal this nightmare that the democrats insist on ramming down our throats. stick to this and don't go chasing the usual bs red herrings the leftists will throw out there as they usually do. bring every question back to the democrats economic and healthcare failures and ask if we can endure any more of them.
Christie " I think that the frustration that many of us feel is that they're a headwind rather than a tailwind and that's not productive for the citizens that we're all privileged to represent.""
Yeah that would be the Tea Party blowing wind, so to speak. Christie is waiting because maybe later the Tea Party will be a history footnote.
Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes
Palin is a mix of Adolf Hitler & the green specs in my feces all wrapped up in polysynthetic skin.
What a coincidence! I was thinking the very same thing about Barack Obama after he lied to me about keeping my doctor and health insurance.
Right Mr. Krispy, just keep up your diet big boy
@Tampa Tim "I am trying to sign up for the republican health care plan, but cannot locate Cruz Care, Boehner Care, Koch Care, or the Fox Care websites. They must still be down."
Don't bother. I found the site but when you click on anything it puts up a laughing face with the message "I got mine. Forget you."
Hey saying, could you explain to me why the Koch brothers spent so much money on repealing obamacare, there only trying yo help us right? If that were true they could afford to pay better wages, and not threaten their employees on how to vote, really think people believe their interest is to help, get real.
"Too bad you couldn't help good ole' Bob McCorrupt & the Cooch. Your republican governors have a lot of explaining to do. Rick Scott, John Kasich & Rick Snyder are going down. There's nothing besides for gerrymandering & voter surpression that you can do to stop these guys from getting the boot."
Let's add Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and the Wicked Witch of the West. Okay?
I was thinking the very same thing about Barack Obama after he lied to me about keeping my doctor and health insurance.
Well have you tried to log on to the republican website to find a plan?
Don't worry big boy. The only thing I would be worried about right now is to. Never mind the country has nothing to worry about.
You just reinforced your right wing conservative side by standing by the other red governors.
They are still talking jobs. Didn't the teaklans run on JOBS, JOBS JOBS in 2010?
Didn't walker want to fire policemen and teachers". Yep, that's job creating the rethug way.
Honest is really a laugh from him because he doesn't understand that there are many ways to say things. He lack tact and understanding in order to really do things well. He has been a bully.
Doesn't matter whether you worry about it or not. The Oval Office, will more than likely be occupied by a better candidate.
I am very interested in seeing Governor Christie under the scrutiny and pressure of the national media. I think the odds are 60 – 40 that his temperament is going to get the best of him.
Christie needs to think about 2016 right now. I can't imagine how this man will manage to move from one State to the other campaigning? Thats will be more tougher for you than governing NJ.