New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, touting U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign for re-election, told an audience Friday in Germantown that the Republican Party must broaden its base without compromising its principles.

“His career has been a testament to that,” Christie told a crowd of Alexander volunteers and local Republican officials at the opening of the Alexander campaign office in the Carrefour at Kirby Woods shopping center.

Christie came to Germantown in advance of his headlining appearance Friday night in Nashville at the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual fundraising Statesmen’s Dinner.

In Nashville, Christie said he won’t decide on a presidential race until at least after the November elections.

“I’ve said to folks I’m certainly thinking about it,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do and my mother taught me a long time ago, stupid people make decisions before they have to. I’m not stupid.”

Christie’s joint appearance with Alexander marked the opening of the senator’s campaign field office for West Tennessee. Volunteers passed out yard signs and stickers that simply read “Lamar” on a field of red plaid — a nod to Alexander’s trademark shirt from campaigns past.

Alexander, 73, is seeking his third term in the U.S. Senate. His opposition in the Republican primary includes state Rep. Joe Carr of Rutherford County and Memphis radiologist and businessman George Flinn. Polls have indicated Alexander has a significant lead.

Alexander didn’t mention or hint at his primary foes in his remarks, instead noting that any potential Democratic challenger would pick up his Senate desk “and move it over there by Harry Reid,” the Senate Majority Leader vilified by Republicans.

Christie also challenged Republicans to do outreach in communities in which it they have not historically done well.

“We understand and have learned lessons from previous elections that we need to broaden our outreach to folks,” Christie said. “And that means showing up — there’s nothing that substitutes for showing up.”

Christie and Alexander were flanked on stage by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, former county party chairman Lang Wiseman and Probate Court Clerk Paul Boyd. Luttrell and Boyd are seeking re-election in the general election, which will be held at the same time as Alexander’s Aug. 7 primary.

Wiseman said Alexander “knows the difference between grandstanding and governing.”

Some tea party Republicans, including state Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden, had criticized the choice of Christie as the keynote speaker Friday night.

“I love a party where everybody’s allowed to have diverse opinions,” Christie said.

In Nashville Friday afternoon, Christie and Gov. Bill Haslam greeted locals and tourists at a downtown restaurant before heading to the GOP gala. Christie said he doesn’t worry that conservatives might be suspicious of a northeastern governor from a more liberal state.

“My budget I proposed this year is smaller than the budget in New Jersey seven years ago. I’ve vetoed tax increases. I’m pro-life. It seems to me that’s pretty conservative. Folks just assume that when you’re from a certain part of the country or if you reach out and work with other folks that you might not be conservative,” he said. “I just act like myself and people take it or leave it and I’m completely content with that.”

Haslam launches his re-election campaign Saturday with a rally at the Loveless Cafe. Christie said he’s helping GOP governors across the country as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. “Bill is a great friend and a great governor so I’m just here to help him.”

Haslam was asked if would reciprocate by supporting Christie if he runs for President. “I haven’t heard an announcement from him yet,” Haslam said. “Chris is a good guy and he’s a friend and he’s really working hard for Republican governors but even more than that, he’s making hard choices as governor.”

The public face of Christie’s ambitions has been characterized of late by his administration’s role in a lane closure flap in New Jersey; by coincidence, a lane on Poplar in front of the Carrefour center was closed for utility work as visitors came to the Christie event.

Also largely by coincidence, Christie is the second possible GOP presidential candidate to speak to Republicans in the Memphis area in May. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky addressed the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting at The Peabody on May 9, a day after Haslam spoke to that group.

The messages were similar — be bold, be inclusive, but be true to conservative principles.

“I’m preaching to the choir today so you’ll sing,” Christie said. “So you’ll sing to your friends and your families, so you’ll sing to your co-workers and your neighbors.”