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In Iowa, Chris Christie bemoans Obama's "vacuum of leadership"

Gov. Chris Christie, R-New Jersey, attends a Birthday Bash for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad October 25, 2014 in Clive, Iowa.

Steve Pope, Getty Images

Campaigning for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad in Iowa on Saturday, Gov. Chris Christie, R-New Jersey, bemoaned a "vacuum of leadership" from President Obama - but he told a packed Republican crowd in the first-in-the-nation caucus state that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"It has been six long years, but I bring you good news," he said, according to NJ.com. "There are only two more years left."

Christie, the head of the Republican Governors Association, was ostensibly in Iowa to assist Branstad's reelection bid. But his repeated condemnations of Mr. Obama only served to underscore his own national ambition as he mulls a presidential bid in 2016.

The New Jersey governor blamed Mr. Obama's deficient leadership for leaving people at home and abroad without any clear idea of "what America stands for."

"Worse than the lack of accomplishment in Washington, D.C., and the frustration that our people feel is what's happening around the world," Christie added. "America is not being respected around the world the way we used to be, and we're not being respected because we longer mean what we say and say what we mean."

Christie specifically criticized the president for not intervening more forcefully in the Syrian civil war and not standing "strong and hard for our allies in Israel."

"We've now had six years where the world has been adrift because of the lack and failure of American leadership," he said.

Christie's own leadership style -- called brash by critics, decisive by supporters -- has served to differentiate him from Mr. Obama, whom some regard as professorial and occasionally aloof.

At times, though, Christie's hard-charging approach has earned him some criticism. In a news conference on Friday, Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-New York, announced a mandatory quarantine order for all health care personnel returning from West Africa, where an outbreak of the Ebola virus continues raging. But a top government doctor suggested Saturday that the measure could end up doing more harm than good, and the American Civil Liberties Union said the measure might be a violation of the travelers' civil rights.

The governors said they made the decision because they did not believe the federal government's guidelines went far enough to protect American citizens from the virus. Shortly thereafter, the governors of Illinois and Florida announced similar measures.

Christie said Sunday on Fox News that he had "no second thoughts" about the decision.

"It was my conclusion we need to do this to protect the public health of people of New Jersey. Governor Cuomo agreed," he said. "I don't believe when you're dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system. This is government's job. If anything else, the government job is to protect safety and health of our citizens. And so, we've taken this action and I absolutely have no second thoughts about it."

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the mandatory quarantine could have "unintended consequences."

"The idea of a blanket quarantine for people who come back could possibly have a negative consequence of essentially disincentivizing people from wanting to go there," he said. "The best way to protect Americans is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those healthcare workers to do that. So to put them in a position where when they come back that no matter what they're automatically under quarantine can actually have unintended consequences and that's the reason we're concerned about that."

Kaci Hickox, the first traveler quarantined under the order, has criticized her treatment as inhumane. And the ACLU said in a statement released Sunday that the mandatory quarantine order may be an abuse of power.

"Coercive measures like mandatory quarantine of people exhibiting no symptoms of Ebola and when not medically necessary raise serious constitutional concerns about the state abusing its powers," said Udi Ofer, the executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey. "By forcibly detaining people we are also frightening the public and may deter genuinely sick people who fear quarantine from seeking the treatments they deserve, while also discouraging caregivers and first responders from helping sick patients who need their assistance."