(CNN) – He may be a likely Republican contender for the White House in 2016 but Tuesday night, Gov. Chris Christie was all about New Jersey. Debating Democratic challenger state Sen. Barbara Buono, Christie, the GOP governor of a state where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans, presented himself as a middle of the road leader, repeating the phrase “in a bipartisan way” throughout the showdown. Buono tried several times throughout the face-off at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey to paint Christie as a stern conservative, throwing out labels like “tea party” and “trickle down economics” and tying Christie to the economic policies of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Christie is the overwhelming frontrunner in the race and his reelection bid has at times been seen as a test operation for a potential future presidential run. But when asked directly if he was running for president, Christie declined to make any headlines. “I’m not going to declare,” Christie said, and “the people of New Jersey don’t expect me to.” If he does run, Christie said it wouldn’t affect his responsibilities as governor. “I can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time,” he said. After Christie’s answer, Buono said it didn’t bother her whether or not Christie was running for president. It “bothers me how you’re running for president,” she said. She attacked Christie’s veto of gun regulation and elimination of Planned Parenthood’s budget, all to kowtow to a national Republican audience in anticipation of a presidential bid, she charged.