Christie talks around ques­tions on pres­i­den­tial run

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

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.


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