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On national talk-show circuit, Christie promotes private-sector growth amid 2016 speculation

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    Making the rounds on four different national talk shows Sunday, Gov. Chris Christie spent a lot of time deflecting questions about his future political aspirations.

    "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, for starters, cut straight to the chase, using his first question to ask Christie how interested he was in running for president in 2016.

    "Well, Chris, what I'm interested in doing is being the governor of New Jersey," Christie said.

    That answer was a common refrain throughout the morning for Christie, who won reelection easily last week with a lopsided victory over state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen). On several occasions on all four shows, Christie shied away from engaging in discussions on foreign policy, his ability to appeal to a national electorate and criticisms thrown his way by more conservative factions of the Republican Party.

    "I'm playing in New Jersey, and that's what I care about, George," Christie told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC's "This Week," when asked whether he thought his message would resonate in more conservative states.

    And despite poll numbers pointing New Jersey voters widely disapproving of Christie's record on the economy and taxes, the governor did not hesitate in challenging the hosts to judge him on his record of private-sector job growth and corporate tax incentive reform. Christie repeatedly advertised that 143,000 new private-sector jobs were created in the last four years with the help of $2.3 billion in tax cuts.

    A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released late last month had Christie's statewide approval rating on the economy and jobs at around 42 percent and at 38 percent on taxes.

    But New Jersey still has an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent. So when asked by NBC's "Meet the Press" host David Gregory to answer to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial describing Christie's economic record as a "disappointment," Christie said the state's economy was improving but still a work in progress.

    "I never said during my re-election campaign that the job was done," Christie told Gregory. "If the job was done, I wouldn't run for a second term."

    In discussing policy wishes for his next four years, Christie told CBS' "Face the Nation" host Norah O'Donnell that his priorities included lowering income taxes and continuing to foster private-sector growth.

    On Obamacare, Christie pointed to the system's troubled rollout as justification for opting against a state-based health exchange for New Jersey.

    "Anyone who's managed anything or run anything over the course of their careers could see that this was a train wreck, and I was not going to get the people of New Jersey involved in this train wreck in that way," Christie told O'Donnell.

    Unsurprisingly, Christie spent a good deal of time on each show fielding questions about his public image and the recent cover of Time magazine casting his silhouette against the headline, "The Elephant in the Room." Christie dismissed the cover as a non-issue and defended his perceived short temper in a question from Wallace.

    "Listen, I'm the governor of New Jersey, and if you don't think that being governor of New Jersey tries your patience, then you haven't spent enough time in my state, Chris," Christie said.

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    Andrew George

    Andrew George

    Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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