Chris Christie criticizes Romney, praises the teachers union

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Governor Chris Christie made some news this morning when he became the latest Republican governor to disavow Mitt Romney's contention that President Obama won the race with "gifts" to minority constituencies.

"You can't expect to be a leader of all the people and be divisive, OK?" he said on "Morning Joe."

"You have to talk about themes, policies that unite people. And play to their aspirations and their goals and their hopes for their family and their neighbors.

"And I always hate this kind of scapegoating after elections. I mean, when you lose, you lost. Someone asked me the other day, 'Why did Mitt Romney lose?' Because he got less votes than Barack Obama. That's why."

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Republican governors have made a show of disavowing Romney's comments, as the first step in a base-broadening pivot, following the party's big losses last week.

The bigger news from the segment might be that Christie, who is up for re-election next year and has made teachers unions a conspicuous punching bag, was appearing alongside American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, to talk about how they reached a merit-payment agreement that covers teachers in Newark. 

"We found that boulevard of compromise that exists, between compromising your principles—which neither of us would ever do—and getting everything you want, which you're never going to get. There's always a boulevard between there, sometimes broad, sometimes narrow. The job of a leader is to find the way out to that boulevard and make progress for the people of your state."

Christie ought to be facing a tough re-election in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans, and the leading prospective challenger happens to be the current mayor of Newark, Cory Booker. (The state took control of the district in 1995.)

Christie also thanked Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder whose $100-million donation to Newark schools will pay the merit bonuses.

"This is what he wanted," Christie said. "What he said to me when we got this together was, use this to try to make a contract in Newark that will be an example for the country. When it was voted and affirmed this week, I got a text from Mark that said thank you, you kept your end of the bargain and I'm keeping mine."

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