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Christie: Recovery 'stagnant, limp...unimpressive'

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he hasn't made up his mind about running for president in two years, though he sure sounds like he's given it some thought.

"The fact is that you should beware of people in my opinion who are overanxious to make that decision before they need to," he said Wednesday at the Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor. "That would seem to indicate to me ambition over wisdom, and I don't think that's what you want in the person sitting in the Oval Office."

"I'm in no hurry to make those decisions," he added. "I have a pretty good day job as governor of New Jersey."

Considered a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Christie has faced some tough times recently.

The 2013 "Bridgegate" scandal painted him as a bully who staged a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge to punish a political enemy, though a subsequent report showed it was the governor's aides who orchestrated the event. In 2014, he's been stymied by budget difficulties triggered by pension costs.

Despite professing no interest yet in declaring his candidacy, he did address some presidential issues as well as his outspoken character.

"Be yourself. Say, 'Here's what I believe in,'" he said of his formula for addressing challenges. "Try to convince people that if what they're looking for is a candidate that they agree with 100 percent of the time, what they need to do is go home and look in the mirror."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with CNBC's John Harwood at Delivering Alpha 2014
David A. Grogan | CNBC
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with CNBC's John Harwood at Delivering Alpha 2014

He said the business climate needs to be more conducive for investment through lower tax rates, and he advocated an education system that promotes competition.

Talking economics, he called for a smaller, smarter government that doesn't need to spend more money to get results. He voiced skepticism over the recovery, saying that President Barack Obama helped the country avoid "catastrophe" but little more.

"What we've had is the most stagnant, limp, absolutely unimpressive recovery post-recession than we've seen in this country in decades," he said. "The fact is America has one of the largest if not the largest and best economy in the world. But talk to people on the streets every day in New Jersey and ask them if they feel like we've recovered, and I can tell you that most of our citizens don't."

He entertained a number of other topics, advocating more global trade agreements and defending his administration's move to stop electric car maker Tesla from conducting direct sales in the state.

Read More NJ Assembly approves Tesla direct sales

Christie drew numerous laughs from the audience, including his reaction to Tesla chief Elon Musk's criticism in a National Review article.

"What would you expect him to say? Thanks?" he said.

The bridge scandal continues to follow Christie, but he pointed out that there has been no evidence that he was involved.

"The point is, someone went rogue. I am very unhappy about that and extraordinarily disappointed and saddened by it and ultimately accountable for it," he said. "But don't give me this garbage about 'he created an atmosphere.'"

—By CNBC's Jeff Cox

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