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Christie Addresses Teachers' Union Criticism, Contraception Controversy At Town Hall

KEARNY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hit on a couple of hot-button issues during a town hall meeting in Kearny on Monday.

Christie said it may be time to call a truce in the war of words between him and New Jersey's teachers' union. But the call came after the governor leveled some pointed criticism at the union.

The governor told a crowd at the Archdiocesan Youth Retreat Center Gym that the New Jersey Education Association has a "political slush fund" that's spent millions on ads attacking him, money that should be used for merit pay for teachers.

When a woman who said she is a second-grade teacher asked Christie to end the name-calling and personal attacks, the governor said he would if the union would.

A union spokesman says the group has attacked Christie's policies but not him personally.

Meanwhile, Christie said some of the debate over contraception that has cropped up in the Republican primaries is misguided.

When a questioner asked him about the focus by Republican candidates on contraception issues, Christie said too much time has been spent talking about it.

The governor said women need to have access to affordable contraception. He added that some issues, such as whether Catholic organizations should be required to cover birth control costs for their employees, should be addressed.

But he called the overall debate "a silly issue for us to be spending time on" when there are other, more pressing economic and security issues facing the nation.

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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