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Christie talks good governance in D.C. speech


WASHINGTON -- Speaking in the nation’s capital Monday morning, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shed light on how important he thinks it is for executive leaders to take “risks” and be themselves.

“I am coming to this place ... Washington, D.C., because I want people to know that their government can work for them but they need leaders who are willing to take risks,” Christie told the several dozen attendees at a Brookings Institute discussion. “Risk with their own parties and risk with the public who votes for them.”

The prominent Republican governor, whose name has been thrown out as a possible vice presidential pick for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, never directly attacked any politician by name, but did offer stern words for how everyone should govern.

“You can't lead by being a mystery. You can't lead by being an enigma. You can't lead by being aloof. You can't lead by being programmed. I think you have to lead by being yourself and who you are and then people will trust you. And when they trust you they'll follow you,” Christie said.

Just prior to President Obama’s public call to extend tax cuts to middle class Americans, the governor of the Garden State kicked off his roughly 40-minute policy speech at the think tank speaking about the pending fight in his state over cuts.

“Despite promises that we've had for a tax cut to happen, that tax cut was left on the table at the last minute,” Christie said, noting Democrats in his state thought “it was more important for me not to be able to the Republican National Convention in Tampa and say that I got a tax cut for the people of our state than it was to actually give the people of our state a tax cut.”

As for that RNC convention in late August, Christie told the small crowd he will attend but has “absolutely no knowledge at the moment whether I'll even be speaking at the convention.”

Obviously if Romney selects Christie as his running mate, he would address the convention.

The Garden State governor's authenticity has made him a popular figure in the Republican Party for his blunt, no-nonsense style. But it has also led to questions about his temperament. Recently, his off-the-cuff style led to him calling a reporter an "idiot" and got him in a shouting match on the Jersey boardwalk.  It is that kind of behavior, conservatives fear, that could be a distraction if he were to be chosen as Romney's No. 2. 

At no point in the speech or question and answer period Monday at, what was billed as “Restoring Fiscal Integrity and Accountability” discussion, did the vice presidential rumors come up.

Speaking publicly in Washington, D.C. for the first time since early May, Christie argued that only sound, strong leadership will help move this country forward.

“In the end, my message is that leadership is the only thing that will make the difference. And leadership is not just about obstructionism. Leadership is also not about caving every time you get pushed. Leadership is about nuance and about understanding and communicating to people,” he said.