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.