Christie talks around questions on presidential run
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stiffarmed questions about a possible 2016 presidential run while sidestepping several hot-button issues and declining to wade into what he called “the Washington, D.C., game” days after his landslide re-election in the Garden State.
“What I’m interested in is being the governor of New Jersey,” he said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday” when asked how interested he is in running for president in 2016. “The fact is, we’ve got a lot of things to do, a lot of things to focus on, and I know everybody’s going to be speculating about what may come in my future and lots of other people’s future[s] in our party. But the fact is, I’m focused on being the governor of New Jersey and being the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. I think those two jobs will keep me pretty busy over the next year.”
He listed pension reform, cutting taxes and reforming teacher tenure as accomplishments as he worked with a Democrat-controlled Legislature the past four years.
Asked if he favors comprehensive immigration reform with an eventual path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, Mr. Christie said he favors “fixing a broken system.”
On gun control, he touted reforming the way mental health is treated as a priority.
“When you look at what we’ve done in New Jersey, we want to control violence, and some of that may involve firearms, but a lot of it … my focus has been on making sure that mental health is done in a much more aggressive way in New Jersey,” he said.
“I’m for violence control,” he added, noting that he’s signed some gun control measures but that he’s also vetoed some as well. “We need to not pander on these issues. We need to have adults in the room who make decisions based upon controlling violence in our society.”
Democrats, perhaps sensing Mr. Christie’s potential for 2016, jumped on his immigration answer Sunday, as well as his declining to weigh in on negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program — an issue of utmost importance to anyone hoping to succeed President Obama in office.
“I think there are people who are significantly better briefed on this than I am, as the governor of New Jersey,” Mr. Christie said of Iran on ABC’s “This Week.” “And I think it’s very dangerous for folks like for me to get involved in the middle of this and start giving opinions. Listen, we have to let Secretary [of State John F.] Kerry do his work. And then once we see the product of that work, we can all make a judgment. But right now, I’m not briefed well enough to be able to give you an opinion.”
Asked about criticism he has leveled at Sens. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, and Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican — two members of his party widely believed to be plotting potential 2016 presidential runs — Mr. Christie demurred.
“What I’m not going to get into is the Washington, D.C., game that you’re trying to get me into,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m the governor of New Jersey, and I’m focused on getting things done, and I think that’s why we got 61 percent of the vote on Tuesday night. Because I’ll work with anyone and everyone who’s willing to work with me, consistent with my principles and the principles that were just affirmed by 61 percent of the voters.”
The Republican governor also shrugged off the notion that vetting material from 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s vice presidential search — his work as a lobbyist for the securities industry and spending record as U.S. attorney, for example — could do any further damage. Some of the material was leaked to authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and published in “Double Down,” their new book on the 2012 presidential campaign.
“[F]irst off, political advice from people who ran the Romney campaign is probably something nobody should really give a darn about. So let’s start with that,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “But secondly, all these issues have been vetted. And if I ever run for anything again, they’ll be vetted again. If you’re in public life, that’s what you have to understand.”
Mr. Christie did leave a tiny crack open when he was asked whether he will serve out all four years of his second term.
“Listen, who knows?” he said on “This Week.” “I don’t know. I’m going to continue to do my job and finish the job.”
But Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is possibly eyeing his own 2016 bid of his own, said in an interview taped for ABC that it’s not too early to start talking about the next presidential round.
He acknowledged that Mr. Christie’s victory was “impressive,” but also said that “he was a successful governor in New Jersey.”
“Now does that translate to the country? We’ll see in later years and months to come,” Mr. Perry said.