Updated at 8:28 a.m. on February 23.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie criticized unions and public-employee pensions and reiterated that he had no plans to run for president in 2012 on TV talk shows this morning.
“There is no chance. Zero chance,” he said when asked on NBC's Today show if the fact that his top political adviser was considering the formation of a federal political action committee meant he would run for president. "Close the door. Nail it shut,” Christie said.
Christie, who proposed a budget for his state on Tuesday, also weighed in on the union fight in Wisconsin, saying that benefits paid to workers need to be lower.
“We cannot afford these kinds of things and we have a pension deficit of $54 billion in New Jersey. That wasn't created by Wall Street,” said Christie.
The collective-bargaining rights -- which Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is trying to restrict -- are not necessarily the problem, Christie said, but rather that states have been “too generous” with public employees over time.
He supported what he called “responsible” collective bargaining, but said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that somebody had to be representing the taxpayers against the interests of unions -- and that’s how he views his job.
“In New Jersey, we're not trying to break the unions; the unions are trying to break the middle class in New Jersey through the expenses. And they’re close to doing it," he said. "I am fighting for middle-class taxpayers in New Jersey against the power of a union that collects -- just the teachers union -- 130 million a year.”
When host Mika Brzezinski noted that other governors -- like Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy -- were going to raise taxes, Christie was nearly dancing in anticipation.
“I'll be waiting at the border to take Connecticut’s jobs when he does it,” he said.
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