On Tuesday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie became the fourteenth Republican to join the presidential race, promising in a rambling announcement in his hometown of Livingston that he would bring “strong leadership” to Washington. Christie also argued the country should not turn control over to President Obama’s “second mate, Hillary Clinton.”
The New Jersey Republican addressed a friendly audience that surrounded him on all sides, with his wife Mary Pat and their four children joining him on stage. As he often does in his town-hall-style meetings around the state, Christie spoke extemporaneously with a few glances at notes on a music stand. Despite his rhetorical talents, he stumbled over a few lines in a speech that stressed both his biography and his record as a tough-talking, truth-telling executive.
“The truth will set us free, everybody,” Christie said, vowing that he would answer questions directly and say what he means, even if it’s unpopular.
“I am not running for the president of the United States as a surrogate for being elected prom king of America,” he said to the crowd gathered in his high-school gymnasium. “I mean what I say, and I say what I mean, and that’s what America needs right now.”
The speech touched briefly on what policies Christie would push for as president, including entitlement reform and foreign policy. On entitlements, Christie’s proposal would seek to restructure Social Security as an insurance program as well as means testing Medicare benefits. While he didn’t mention those details in his announcement, he obliquely criticized politicians who say reforms would amount to stealing from hard-working Americans, likely a reference to fellow candidate and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
"The lying and stealing has already happened. The horse is out of the barn,” he said. “We've got to get it back in, and we can only do it by force."
Christie also knocked both the current president and the party’s leading presidential candidate by name. He said Barack Obama’s self-assessment that the world is better off since he’s been president shows the president “lives in his own world, not our world.”
"After seven years of a weak and feckless foreign policy run by Obama, we better not turn it over to his second mate, Hillary Clinton,” Christie said.
Christie offered his assessment of the overall mood of the country and suggested he could be the one to make Americans feel better about their government.
“Americans are not angry. Americans are filled with anxiety,” Christie said. “Anxiety can be swept away by strong leadership and decisiveness to lead America again.”
Christie is currently at four percent support and in ninth place in the crowded GOP field, according to Real Clear Politics's average of national primary polls. He's in a slightly stronger position in New Hampshire, with 5.6 percent support in the home of the first presidential primary of the cycle.