- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 16, 2011

Two Republican governors Sunday told their party’s incoming Congress members, elected last year on promises to cut government, that they must follow through by opposing more federal spending and increases to the debt ceiling.

“They set forth a whole number of things they want to get done for the people. They now need to get to work,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

He recalled facing a similar situation of having the state government potentially shutting down when negotiating with state Democratic lawmakers over budget cuts. Mr. Christie won the fight but warned congressional Republicans they must be prepared for every consequence.

“This is about making the argument and trying to win the argument,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And I think if you close down government, in some respects you may have lost the argument.”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty offered similar advice on spending and not raising the ceiling on the national debt, which now stands at roughly $14 trillion.

“You’ve got to draw some lines in the sand,” Mr. Pawlenty, widely discussed as a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said after Mr. Christie on the same show.

On the argument that failing to raise the ceiling would require the U.S. to default on its worldwide debt, Mr. Pawlenty recommended sending legislation to President Obama that lists in order the bills to be paid.

Mr. Christie also urged federal lawmakers not to “paper over” state debt by giving them more stimulus money, pointing out that Democratic governors such as Andrew Cuomo in New York and Jerry Brown in California were considering pay freezes and budget cuts to trim deficits.

“It’s not just a Republican thing anymore,” Mr. Christie said.

He also said again that he would not run for president in 2012, despite good poll numbers.

“You have to believe in your heart you’re personally ready for the presidency,” Mr. Christie said. “I’m not there. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that after one year as governor … I am ready to be president of the United States.”

He jokingly added: “Listen, the president can rest easy. The only guy who could beat him in the poll isn’t running. I have a state to run. I love New Jersey.”

Mr. Christie also clarified recent comments about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, saying his criticisms were about her exclusive use of scripted appearances.

“It really wasn’t a criticism of her,” he said. “It was an observation” about how the American electorate want to see candidates in unscripted situations.

“People learn the most about you during campaigns about how you might govern … in those unscripted moments,” Mr. Christie said.

Mrs. Palin last week posted a video on her Facebook page that criticized the news media and others for unfairly blaming her in the attempted assassination of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

The 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate largely has avoided using the mainstream news media to send out her political messages, relying instead on her Facebook and Twitter pages.

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