New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie forcefully endorsed Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderGOP governors confront Medicaid divide A guide to the committees: Senate Overnight Healthcare: Trump officials weigh fate of birth control mandate | House, DOJ seek delay in ObamaCare lawsuit MORE (R-Tenn.) Friday, while jabbing at hardliners seeking office.
The outspoken governor and potential presidential candidate traveled to Tennessee to back Alexander in his reelection bid, and also spoke before the Tennessee Republican Party.
Christie hammered on a message, aimed at both parties, of working together to solve problems, as opposed to holding firm even if it is unproductive.
Christie said Alexander, a former governor himself, was just the man for the job, noting his willingness to work across the aisle on some issues. Electing politicians more interested in picking a fight than fixing problems will just lead to even more Washington gridlock, he warned.
"Let's not start getting dumb now, and stay smart," Christie said. "Sen. Alexander is someone who brings people together. He brings people together around good ideas.”
Christie’s trip to Tennessee marked his first trip to the South since his name emerged as a potential White House contender. While there, Christie said he had made no decisions about a possible run, but is working to rebuild his national profile amid a traffic scandal and budgetary woes in New Jersey.
Meanwhile, Alexander is facing off against a pair of conservative challengers in his Republican primary, though they appear to be long shots to unseat him. One of those challengers, state Rep. Joe Carr, criticized Alexander for appearing with Christie, noting the recent run of bad news Christie has had to weather back home.
"You know what's dumb? Presiding over a state that has a $2.7 billion budget deficit, has had its credit bond ratings downgraded six times and has become a fixture of controversy and scandal," Carr said in a statement.