New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used his annual State of the State address today to suggest to a national audience of activists and donors that his brand of bipartisan, results-oriented leadership is sorely needed in the White House.

In remarks meant to be heard far beyond the Garden State, Christie sought to recast a pugnacious image by decrying “a culture of divisiveness and distrust” and appealing for “an American renewal.”

After listing progress over his five years in office on such fronts as job growth, pension reform, school choice, tax relief, battling drug addiction and reining in government, Christie turned to remedies for the “anxiety” he said he encountered in travels across the country. He mentioned six states not his own: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine and Maryland.

Christie used the beginnings of a turnaround in Camden, N.J., as an example of how partnership across political divides can relieve that anxiety.

“I’m a Republican, she’s a Democrat,” Christie said, in remarks not in his prepared text, after praising the work of Camden Mayor Dana Redd — whom he greeted with a kiss on the cheek on arrival and exit. But the two leaders, he said, were able to “put action and results ahead of politics, partisanship and a shared failed history.”

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Challenging other mayors in the predominantly Democratic state, Christie added:  “If you’re ready to put down the sword of partisan politics, I will extend my hand and … we will rebuild your cities like we rebuilt Camden.”

In a move that brought grumbles from state and local reporters in New Jersey, Christie huddled privately with national correspondents in an off-the-record meeting before his 43-minute speech. His remarks began at 2:15 p.m. — 15 minutes late — and were interrupted by applause more than a dozen times.

Besides an emphasis on limiting government, lowering taxes, reforming schools, creating one-stop drug-recovery assistance and valuing life “at whatever stage” in Jersey-specific programs, Christie sought in later sections of the speech to appeal to more conservative voters and campaign donors across America.

“We have to open our ears and listen to our people,” he said at one point, adding:

New Jersey just lost Mercedes-Benz USA to the state of Georgia. Mercedes, in New Jersey since the early 1970s, is leaving for a very simple reason — it costs less to do business in Georgia than it does in New Jersey. … Economic incentive laws help — but lower taxes are better. We will not win the fight to keep and create good-paying jobs for our middle-class families in New Jersey unless we lower taxes.

>>> Prepared text of Christie’s speech

Christie finishes behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in most 2016 presidential preference polls of GOP voters that exclude 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor. At home, though, Christie faces widespread disapproval 14 months after his re-election.

Also delivering State of the State addresses today are two other governors who are possible Republican candidates for president, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (at 8 p.m. EST) and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence ( at 7 p.m. EST ).

“We have to open our ears and listen to our people,” @GovChristie says.

No Republican or Democrat so far has announced a race for the White House in 2016, but Bush made moves last week to attract major contributors and Romney surfaced with renewed interest in making a third try. Romney’s former running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, yesterday put himself out of contention for the presidency.

In what was either a reference to rumors that he would resign to run for president or that the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal would consume him, Christie reiterated to applause: “I’ll be standing here in one year.”

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Without mentioning names, Christie faulted President Obama’s leadership and that of Congress.

“We are a nation beset by anxiety,” he said, adding:

Economic growth is low by post-war recovery standards. America’s leadership in the world is called into question because of a pattern of indecision and inconsistency. During this time of uncertainty it seems our leaders in Washington would rather stoke division for their own political gain. And this culture of divisiveness and distrust has seeped into our communities and our neighborhoods.

In a section riffing on the theme of renewal before he spoke of Camden, praising  the local school superintendent and police chief as well as the mayor, Christie said Americans “need to address this anxiety head on.”

He said:

We need to renew the spirit and the hopes of our state, our country and our people. A renewal of our commitment to the hard-working families who are the backbone of our state. A renewal of our commitment to the simple belief that our people deserve better than a bloated national government that imposes costs on our states which suffocate our people.

His state’s partnering with Camden leaders slashed violent crime rates, led to new school construction and made schools safer  and better places to learn, Christie said.

“I believe in a New Jersey renewal which can help lead to an American renewal,  both in every individual home and in homes around the world,” he said.

>>>  Watch the speech and Democrats’ response