Chris Christie Addresses Health Care Mandate, Campaign Plans

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) questioned Wednesday night if a federal broccoli purchase mandate would follow the individual mandate on health care reform. Speaking to students at the University of Delaware, Christie was asked for his thoughts on President Obama's health care plan, leading the governor to discuss other things the federal government could require and, in his opinion, further overreach.

"I have philosophical problems with the individual mandate," Christie said. "What's next? I am mandated to eat broccoli? What happens if Congress decides there is a crisis in the broccoli industry and mandates us to eat broccoli?"

Christie then explained that he only believes the government should mandate spending in one area.

"I don't think my government should tell me, besides taxation, how to spend my money," he said.

When questioned on the impact of health care reform on state government, Christie said he sees it having negative financial implications. States are being asked to set up health care exchanges to provide "one-stop shopping" for health insurance. Christie indicated, however, that he believes the first few years of the program would benefit New Jersey, which has one of the richest Medicare programs in the country.

"In the short-term we benefit," he said. "Over the long haul it will be expensive to the states."

Christie ducked questions on whether or not he would run for the White House in 2016, stressing his support of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2012. After considerable speculation, Christie announced in October he would not run for president this election cycle, and said he expects Romney to defeat Obama next year. But in the event that Obama wins, the governor said he believes Republicans will continues to control Congress through the president's second term.

"As far as me being involved, that's five years from now," Christie said. "Five years ago no one was clamoring for me to run for president. A lot can happen in five years."

The speech came hours after four former New Jersey governors discussed Christie's political future at the state's League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City. Former Gov. Brendan Byrne (D) believed Christie will be on the ticket as vice president in 2012, while former Gov. John Bennett (R) said if Obama wins reelection, he thinks Christie will forgo a second term as governor to focus on a 2016 presidential bid.

Christie spent much of the forum -- which was billed as a discussion of the challenges facing governors -- touting his own record, including on emergency management.

"I have been like the disaster governor," he said. "We have had six blizzards, a hurricane, an earthquake and three major floods. The big thing when you are dealing with a natural disaster is you have to do a lot of work before it happens. You have to be there. I know this has not been typical of some of my predecessors, but I was at the operations center, 14 hours a day, during the hurricane."

Christie did not mention his December 2010 decision to stay in Disney World when New Jersey was hit with a major blizzard. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) was in Mexico during the storm, leaving Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) as the state's acting governor.

Christie also briefly touched on the MTV show "Jersey Shore," which he has opposed in the past, including vetoing a tax credit for the program's production.

"I want to remind you that they are not from New Jersey, they are from New York," he said. "They parachuted these losers into New Jersey."