New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday blamed President Barack Obama for "not bringing people together" during the government shutdown debate and said the president would be ultimately responsible for a funding stoppage.
"My approach would be, as the executive, is to call in the leaders of the Congress, the legislature, whatever you're dealing with, and say, 'We're not leaving this room until we fix this problem, because I'm the boss, I'm in charge," Christie said.
"When you're the executive, if you're waiting for leadership from the legislative branch of government, whether you're the governor, or whether you're the president or you're mayor, you are going to be waiting forever, forever because they're not built to lead and take risk."
Speaking at an event for the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation just hours before the shutdown deadline loomed, the potential 2016 presidential contender said blame should also be placed on Republicans and Democrats in Congress. But, the tough-talking Garden State governor said, the chief executive is the one who needs to corral support, no matter how difficult it may be to come by.
Legislators, Christie said, are not "built to lead and take risk."
"What they are built to do is say, 'Ok how many votes do we have and how many do we need and do I have to give my vote now or can I hold back a little bit and wait to see which way the wind is blowing?" Christie said. "The only person that forces that in the end, to end that, is the executive."
Some of Christie's top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination may turn out to be members of Congress involved in the government shutdown fight. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz became the face of GOP efforts to repeal the president's health care law with his 21-hour speech last week. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, whom Christie has sparred with over national security issues, and Rep. Paul Ryan are also current members of Congress who are thought to be considering a presidential bid in 2016.
Christie, who enjoys a comfortable lead in his re-election bid this year, said the biggest problem in Washington is that no one talks to each other, only "at each other."
If it were up to him, the Garden State Republican said, he would eliminate the heavily used press conference staging areas in the United States Capitol and at the White House driveway where politicians gab to the press.
"If we were able to eliminate those two spots and instead say to them, 'Here's the deal: You can go to those spots, but you can only go to those spots after you've actually had a real meeting where people had tried to really solve problems–then you go talk to the press,'" he said.
First published September 30 2013, 8:08 PM