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Christie scolds the president, Congress on leadership, entitlements

From NBC's Catherine Chomiak
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) scolded elected officials this afternoon in a speech at conservative think tank in Washington, urging them to lead.

“Leadership today in America has to be about doing the big things and being courageous,” he said.

His comments come as neither Republicans nor Democrats have put forth plans to deal with the third-rail of politics – entitlement programs. 

“I look at what is happening in Washington,” Christie said, “and I’m worried…. Let me suggest to you that what game is being played down here is irresponsible and is dangerous.”

He proposed raising the retirement age to help shore up Social Security and stressed the need to reform Medicare and Medicaid, but he didn’t offer any specifics on how to do so.

"What’s the truth that nobody's talking about?" Christie said. "Here's the truth that nobody's talking about. You're gonna have to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Oh, I just said it and I'm still standing here I did not vaporize into the carpeting, and I said it. We have to reform Medicare because it costs too much and it is gonna bankrupt us. Once again lightning did not come through the windows and strike me dead and we have to fix Medicaid because it’s not only bankrupting the federal government, it's bankrupting every state government. There ya go."

In addition to expressing disappointment with both parties, Christie was specifically critical of the president. Referring to the president’s State of the Union address, he argued that what he said Obama mentioned as the “big things” -- high-speed rail, high-speed Internet, and electric cars -- are “the candy of American politics.”

“Those are not the big things,” Christie said, “because let me guarantee you something, if we don’t fix the real big things … we’re not going to be able to care about the niceties of life, the investments that Washington wants to continue to make.”

As for if the governor will challenge Obama in 2012, Christie jokingly said, “I threatened to commit suicide. I said what do I have to do short of suicide to convince people I'm not running. Apparently, I actually have to commit suicide to convince people I'm not running."

On a more serious note, Christie added, “You have to feel in your heart and in your mind that you're ready for the presidency, and there are lots of people who will run just because the opportunity presents itself. And I'm not stupid. I see the opportunity. I see it. That's not the reason to run. And I think all too often that's why people do run.”

One last consideration for Christie, he said, is his wife, “She’d just kill me.”