The Government Shutdown, According to Chris Christie

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Photo: SAUL LOEB/2012 AFP

Chris Christie is currently focused on his reelection campaign, but as he declared when asked about his 2016 plans at last week's debate, "I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can do this job and also deal with my future.” The New Jersey governor has been taking full advantage of the shutdown mess, playing up his status as a Washington outsider, while touting his cut-the-BS style and willingness to compromise. When asked about a potential government shutdown in January, Christie said, "You have to use every bit of leverage you have to be able to negotiate." That sparked accusations of flip-flopping, but in the past few weeks Christie's been pretty consistent, condemning both parties and explaining his (unrealistic) plan to find a bipartisan solution through his patented brand of New Jersey tough talking.

Christie on who's to blame for the government shutdown:

"Everybody is at fault here ... They all saw this coming, and they all played chicken with each other and now the country is fed up and rightfully so."

"The president saw this train coming for a long time. All of a sudden [Friday's] the first day he has anyone over to the White House? Same thing with the Speaker, same thing with the majority. They saw this train coming for a long time and did nothing to stop it."

But maybe some Republicans deserve less blame than others:

"Quite frankly, to be fair, I don’t think you hear responsible Republican leaders advocating a shutdown of the government."

How Christie tried to solve the crisis when he visited Republican senators in D.C. last week:

"What I said to any of them that I met with: Get the government reopened, stop monkeying around, and get back to work. I said, I'm out there in the field, people have no patience for this stuff. None."

Why Christie couldn't stick around to continue badgering lawmakers:

"I have to tell ya, I was so thrilled to get out of there alive...and seemingly not infected by the awful partisanship that is going on down there now."

Why you can't expect members of Congress to do their jobs:

"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 risks."

What D.C. should take from the compromises Christie reached with Democrats in the state Legislature:

“If we can do it here, with the angry, nasty people we have in New Jersey, for God’s sake, you can do it anywhere."

Christie on the benefits of restricting press conferences outside the Capitol Building and the White House driveway:

"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.' "

What Christie would do differently if he were president:

"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."

What Christie would do differently if he were a legislator:

"If I was in the Senate right now, I’d kill myself."