Chris Christie, the former, two-term Republican governor of New Jersey who bid unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in 2016, announced on June 6 that he is running for president in 2024.
Christie, 60, declared his candidacy in a town hall at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. Joined by his wife Mary Pat, four children and father, Christie spoke about the importance of choosing to go big rather than small, and to unify the country.
He joins growing list of candidates looking to beat Trump for the GOP nomination that includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott, former Vice President Mike Pence, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and radio host Larry Elder.
“We have candidates for president who are talking about issues that are so small that sometimes it’s hard to even understand,” he said.
He came out swinging at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, telling the friendly New Hampshire audience that true leaders are human and don’t pretend to be perfect. “In our democracy, we are no better and no worse than you. We are you,” he said.
Citing a leader who claims to have never lost, and who always blames others, Christie said, “I lost. You people did that to me in 2016.”
After saying the anonymous leader, whom many see as Voldemort-like in that he cannot be named, sees America’s greatness only when he looks in the mirror, Christie named Trump directly. “A lonely, self-consuming mirror hog is not a leader,” Christie said.
“I believe that America’s greatness resides out there. Among all of you,” he said.
Christie also took swipes at other Republican candidates, saying that their pitch to voters was: Pick me, because I’m like what you picked before but less crazy.
“If you are in search of the perfect candidate, it is time to leave. I am not it. Not only am I not the perfect candidate, I’m far from the perfect person,” he told the audience. He stressed the importance of character though, chastising leaders who direct the public not to care about that trait.
“We can’t dismiss the question of character anymore, everybody. If we do, we get what we deserve,” he said. “The Greeks said character is destiny.”
After about 25 minutes, Christie opened the floor up to questions. He often joked with those posing the questions, telling one, “I’m glad you’re 15 and can’t yet vote.” He noted he would seek the young man’s vote for his reelection, though.
“Thank God they did it,” he told another, who asked for Christie’s thoughts on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) negotiations in the debt deal. Christie said he didn’t agree with McCarthy on everything, but that it is essential in politics to compromise.
In the 1990s, Christie managed fundraising for Republican candidates, including for then President George H.W. Bush in 1992. He supported George W. Bush’s White House bid, and was appointed U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey in 2001.
In the latter role, he was noted for pursuing corruption and successfully convicting more than 130 government officials. As N.J. governor, Christie became popular with the Republican base for cutting government programs and battling labor unions. Many admired, and re-watched, his press conferences, in which he would berate reporters.
Over the years, Christie has staked out a pro-Israel position, but not without its hiccups.
In 2010, Christie and more than 50 Jewish leaders proclaimed May Jewish American Heritage Month in New Jersey. Two years later, Christie met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. (He tweeted that there was never any question where his first official overseas visit as governor would be.)
Christie stumbled into controversy in 2014 when he described the West Bank as “the occupied territories.” He later claimed he misspoke.
The prior year, when Christie signed a joint resolution celebrating Israel’s 65th anniversary, the then-governor noted that New Jersey had the fourth-largest Jewish community of any U.S. state, with about 480,000 Jews.
“In fact, by percentage the Garden State has the second-highest Jewish population, second only to the state of New York,” he said. “Not only is our relationship with the State of Israel one that shares a common philosophy on freedom and liberty but also shares a vigorous trade and economic relationship as well.”
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
Edited by Alberto Arellano and Joseph Hammond