NEW YORK -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie insisted Wednesday that he hasn't decided whether he's running for president. But he had sharp words for those who have.
Speaking before a Wall Street crowd at CNBC's Delivering Alpha conference, Christie said voters should "be careful" of candidates who've made clear they're already in the running.
"You should beware of people, in my opinion, who are overanxious to make that decision before they need to," he said, without naming names. "That would, it seem, indicate to me ambition before wisdom, and I don't think that's what you want from the person sitting in the Oval Office. I think what you want from that person is wisdom and strength and determination and a sense inside them that they're there for a reason, not just for the title."
Some fellow Republicans, such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, appear closer to making up their minds about running; both have begun raising funds.
Christie, who will head to Iowa on Thursday for fundraising events through his role as chair of the Republican Governors Association, also defended his recent tendency to skirt questions about contentious national topics after he declined to weigh in on the merits of the Export-Import Bank, whose future is in question because some Republicans oppose it as a taxpayer-subsidized giveaway to large companies. He has done the same on issues including immigration and foreign policy.
"If I run for president, you can be sure I'll have an opinion. But I'm not going to sit here and pretend to have opinions about things that will be ill-informed," Christie told CNBC's John Harwood in the televised interview.
"The fact is, if and when there's a time that comes that I need to be telling people in this country what my view is on those issues, I will. But until that time, I think it's quite frankly immature to be expressing a lot of those opinions just because I'm sitting up here in front of this room and you asked," he added. "And if I don't think my answer's going to be smart and will stand the test of time, you can be damned sure I'm not going to answer because you'll have this tape and you'll use it."
Christie, who recently delayed planned payments to New Jersey's pension system, also hit Democratic lawmakers in the state for trying to raise taxes to fill a major budget gap.
"I'm the guy at the gate trying to keep the barbarians away," he railed.