New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that trade shouldn't be a partisan issue if America wants to get a leg up in the global economy.
The first-term Republican said his appointment by President Barack Obama last year to a federal advisory panel on trade policy was proof that trade is not a Republican or Democratic issue.
"Trade is not a partisan issue when President Obama nominates Governor Christie to be on anything," Christie joked.
Christie spoke at a Washington International Trade Foundation reception for governors and ambassadors.
"America has to reach out around the world to grow our economy," he said.
With his bombastic style and his tough fiscal policies, Christie has emerged on the national stage after just over a year as governor. He's become a darling of many conservatives for his budget-cutting ways and his willingness to battle Democrat-friendly unions.
Christie has ruled out running for president in 2012, despite encouragement from Republicans. But he could become a potential vice presidential pick for the eventual GOP nominee.
Christie urged states to get their fiscal houses in order to attract foreign business, echoing a favorite theme.
"We have to get to the hard work of making sure we control our expenses, lower our taxes and make sure that America, in each of its individual states, continues to remain attractive for international investment," he said.
Christie won election in 2009, taking over a Democrat-leaning state plagued by the nation's highest taxes, an $11 billion deficit and unemployment near 10 percent. Confronting a constitutional balanced budget requirement and a Democratic Legislature, Christie has proposed raising the retirement age and requiring public workers to pay more for pension and health benefits.
Union leaders see Christie's proposals as attempts to weaken unions that have been traditional allies to Democrats.
The nation's governors are gathered in Washington this weekend for their winter meeting.