SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took over as chairman of the Republican Governors Association on Thursday and insisted the election on which he is most focused is 2014, not the 2016 presidential race.
"2016 is a long way away, and I’m two weeks out of a campaign," Christie said at the annual fall conference for GOP governors. "I’m not looking to start speculating about other campaigns already. We’ve got 2014 to deal with, that’s what we’re going to deal with."
Christie was re-elected in a Democratic-leaning state earlier this month by an historic margin, drawing together a coalition of Republicans and some Democrats across all demographics to win in a Democratic-leaning state. The commanding victory and broad appeal has only amplified buzz that Christie might seek the presidency in 2016.
But, for now, Christie insists, that White House race is not at the forefront of his mind -- even though, not coincidentally, the RGA chairmanship has served as a launching pad for Republican presidential candidates in the past, including for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
"My job is to go out there and elect and re-elect Republican governors, and that's going to be my sole focus over the course of the next 11 months," Christie said.
He added later that his "first and most important job is being governor of New Jersey," but that chairing the RGA would be his second priority, and a prominent one at that.
Outgoing RGA Chairman Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, will serve as vice chair under Christie. Jindal is also rumored to be weighing a bid for the presidency in 2016.