ORLANDO -- Jokingly introduced as the "shy and retiring" Chris Christie by Republican Governor's Association chairman Bob McDonnell, the New Jersey governor and prominent Mitt Romney endorser once again showed he was anything but -- slamming President Obama and defending the man he is supporting for the Republican presidential nomination.
"Every time there was an opportunity to provide real leadership where the things would be difficult to do, where it's not a guaranteed layup or a guaranteed photo op, he walks," Christie said of the president. "Real leadership is not what you see in the White house right now. As I've said before, I think it’s a sad day in our country's history to see a bystander in the Oval Office, and that's what we have."
Christie was among 27 Republican governors to attend the RGA's meeting here this week, but his position as perhaps Mitt Romney's most prominent supporter -- and one of only a handful of governors to endorse any presidential candidate -- made him the center of attention today.
"He's the one guy who has performed consistently," Christie said, when asked about a perceived lack of enthusiasm in the GOP base for his favored candidate. "If you define enthusiasm as being at 30% one day and 8% two weeks later. I call that schizophrenia, not enthusiasm. What Gov. Romney has shown over time is that he has a strong and steady core of supporters. I believe that that type of steadiness and that type of consistency is going to lead to him being our party's nominee."
The New Jersey governor, who briefly considered making his own run for the White House, weighed in on several strategic elements of Romney's campaign, including how the former Massachusetts governor should deal with the surging Newt Gingrich. His advice? Don't engage.
"If Gov. Romney engaged every person who had a temporary rise in the polls, that's all he'd be doing," Christie said. "Gov. Romney's job is to lay out his hopeful, optimistic vision for the future of this country and his critique of the last four years, not to engage every person who has, like I said, a temporary rise in the polls."
The outspoken Christie also took a question from a reporter about Romney's demonstrated preference for not taking questions from reporters.
"Everybody has got their own style, and I certainly am not going to try to make anybody something that they're not. Because if they acted that way, it wouldn't come across legitimate or genuine. I am who I am. People ask me questions and I try to answer then as directly and as quickly as possible, and I just think that's the better way to go when you're in public life," Christie said. "Because if you avoid the questions, they're eventually going to catch up to you anyway, so why not answer them and get them out of the way and move on to what you want to talk about."
Despite the vast majority of Republican governors attending this event remaining unaligned in the presidential race thus far, Christie said he was not actively recruiting new endorsers for the Romney campaign.
"I think my role as an endorser is to help Governor Romney in whatever way he asks me to. I'm not sitting around, you know, as a recruiter. I've got other things to do. I'm the vice chairman of this organization." Christie said. "Everybody knows that I'm with Mitt and if in fact they have some questions they'd like to get clarification on or encouragement, it's not like I'm not visible around here. They can talk to me, but I'm not sitting here with my Mitt button on trying to bring everybody into the fold."
Christie did disclose one of those things Gov. Romney asked him to do -- he'll be campaigning in Iowa on Romney's behalf next week, yet another sign that Romney is playing to win in the Hawkeye State.