(KEARNY, N.J.) -- New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie took another shot at his state's teachers Wednesday by describing their union leaders as "political thugs."
In an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Christie offered no apology for his often tough talk that has left some teachers feeling bruised, and also addressed the possibility of a presidential run in 2012.
While sitting in the school library at Lincoln School in Kearny, New Jersey, Christie told Sawyer that it's essential for his state's education system to change, and he blames the teachers union for the harsh cuts his administration is making, which include layoffs and larger classrooms.
"I believe the teachers in New Jersey in the main are wonderful public servants that care deeply. But their union, their union are a group of political thugs," Christie said.
He said the New Jersey Education Association refused to negotiate on a salary freeze last year.
"They should have taken the salary freeze," he said. "They didn't and now, you know, we had to lay teachers off. They chose to continue to get their salary increases rather than be part of the shared sacrifice."
Dismissing objections to his blunt talk, Christie said, "We're from New Jersey and when you're from New Jersey, what that means is you give as good as you get."
Christie is also suggesting a dramatic change in the state's tenure program, forcing tenured teachers to undergo a yearly review and face removal from tenure if they're found to be ineffective.
Christie's tough talk for teachers unions has found a receptive audience beyond his state borders. A political unknown on the national stage just two years ago, Christie, 48, is now mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. But the governor repeated his claim Wednesday that he has no plans to run in 2012.
"No, I'm not running for president," Christie said. "I don't feel ready in my heart to be president. And unless I do, I don't have any right offering myself to the people of this country."
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