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Economic Growth Summit: Chris Christie

@PatriciaMazzei

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Unlike all the other candidates who have appeared so far at Florida Gov. Rick Scott's presidential candidate forum, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie didn't grab the microphone and give a speech.

Instead, he sat down for an interview of sorts with Scott himself, whom Christie helped re-elect when he was president of the Republican Governors Association. Sample tough question from Scott: "Why do you care so much?"

THIRD RAIL: Christie, who supports raising the retirement age for younger workers to fund Social Security, said entitlements make up "71 percent" of the federal budget. "If you don't talk about what you're going to do about 71 percent, in my view, you have not right to talk about the other 29 percent," he said.

"Political folks told me don't touch this stuff," Christie added. "You know me: Instead of touching it, I'm hugging it." ("They told me not to run, so," Scott quipped back.)  

LAUGH LINE: Prompted by Scott, Christie told the story of a woman in Orange, N.J., who held a sign with Christie's name on it "and the universal sign of no." "I was pretty sure she was at least neutral," Christie said. "But for me, gettable."

CROSSING THE AISLE: "Ever since I became governor I've spent more time with people I can't stand. But I don't have the luxury to say I'm not going to deal with you because you're not my cup of tea."

GROWING THE GOP: Christie boasted campaigning to labor groups, African Americans and Hispanics: "When we went to these places, we didn't come with a 10-point plan or a white paper. We sat and listened. I think politicians in general do too little of that. In those communities, our party has done too little of that."

ECONOMIC PROPOSALS: Limit tax system to three brackets, get rid of most tax deductions, lower corporate tax rate to 25 percent, allow a one-time repatriation of offshore money.

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