Gov. Chris Christie Blasts Obama for Lack of Leadership

Christie says Obama has failed as a leader

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered a sharp Republican response today to a speech made yesterday by President Barack Obama, doubling-down on his claim that Obama is "sitting on the sidelines" rather than leading the country.

"America is starving for leadership," Christie said during a luncheon hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition's 2012 presidential forum.

"We need a leader who will lead us to the moment … and then not to be cautious and safe and sit back and wait for someone else to do the hard work, but to get out of your chair and do the hard work yourself to make America great," he said.

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Christie, who has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, did not discuss the GOP race and focused instead on leveling criticism at Obama. The popular governor briefly flirted with a run for the White House but bowed out in October, saying he wanted to concentrate on his work in New Jersey.

But on the campaign trail, Christie's been rousing Republican primary crowds.

"We need to meet the moment and we need to up our game," Christie quoted Obama as saying yesterday during his Kansas speech. Obama aimed to draw parallels with President Teddy Roosevelt and frame the current economic debate as one of fundamental "fairness."

Christie used the passage as an opportunity to paint Obama as tentative leader.

"I would respectfully suggest the president has had every opportunity to up his game for three years and he has been on the bench," Christie said. Using the president's failure to turn around the economy, decision to pass federal health care legislation, and decision to set aside the deficit cutting plan promoted by a task force he created, Christie said, "he gave us false hope, as he often does."

"The minute that report was issued the president put it on a shelf to collect dust. And not because he doesn't think the ideas were good or worthy of debate or discussion," Christie said of the Simpson-Bowles commission deficit-cutting plan. "It is because of his own self-interested political timidity that he didn't deal with that report."

Touching on the foreign policy theme prominent at the rest of the forum, Christie said watching the president "attempt to lead" the United States around the world has left "the sickening feeling that this is a man out of his depth."

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Comparing his place as Republican governor of New Jersey as the equivalent of playing in a casino with "house money," Christie said it's more important to him to accomplish certain goals during his four year term, than to concern himself with winning re-election. But he said Obama is "obsessed" with getting himself re-elected, to the detriment of the country.

Email: rmetzler@usnews.com

Twitter: @rebekahmetzler