Gov. Chris Christie became the latest Republican to distance himself from Mitt Romney Friday for saying President Barack Obama won last week's election by offering "gifts" to minority voters.
The New Jersey governor, who endorsed Romney early in the primary process and acted as one of the candidate's top surrogates, was more restrained in his criticism than some other Republicans, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, saying Romney was still smarting from a negative campaign that ended in an Election Day defeat.
"He's a good man. He will find his level. And I think it's still a little raw," Christie said on MSNBC. "Do I wish he hadn't said those things? Of course not. But on the other hand, I'm not going to bury the guy for it."
"I understand he's very upset about having lost the election and very disappointed," he continued. "I've never run for president - I've lost elections but never for the presidency - and I'm sure it stings terribly."
Romney's interest in parsing various electoral blocs was the wrong focus, Christie said, saying the former GOP nominee couldn't "expect to be the leader of all the people and be divisive."
The type of post-election analysis Romney was offering made little sense to the New Jersey governor, who said it was time to focus back on governing, rather than making excuses for last Tuesday's electoral thrashing.
"I always hate this kind of scapegoating after elections. When you lose, you lost," Christie said.
He pointed to GOP governors as the future of the party, noting gains made by the Republicans in statehouses, compared to a loss of seats in the Senate and House.
"People see us getting things done," Christie said, saying Republicans don't require a "core philosophical examination."
"What this is about is doing our jobs," he said. "And people expect that if they give you the privilege of serving. Do your job."
He touted his own success in negotiating an agreement with teachers in Newark to grant performance pay based on reviews conducted by their colleagues, promoting the new contract with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Christie - who came under fire from some Republicans after the election for appearing with Obama during storm relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy - said the new teachers' contract was an example of finding middle ground in areas where two sides have traditionally been at odds. The funding for the new, merit-based payments will come from a $100 million contribution to Newark schools by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
"We all decided we needed to do something different," Christie said, saying he and the teachers' union located "a boulevard of compromise that exists" between issuing bonuses based on merit or seniority.
"The job of a leader is to find your way onto that boulevard," Christie said.
Newark schools have been controlled by the state of New Jersey, rather than locally, since 1995. Zuckerberg's contribution last year prompted local authorities to petition for control of their schools, a push that was ultimately unsuccessful. Newark's mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, is seen as a possible choice to challenge Christie in next year's gubernatorial election in the Garden State.
On his monthly radio show Thursday, Booker praised the teachers' deal, saying there was "no contract like it in America."
"It really has broken ground," he said.