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Politics and Government

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Launches Presidential Campaign


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie became the 14th Republican presidential candidate today. The one-time front-runner for the GOP nomination reintroduced himself to the nation from his old high school. In a moment, some analysis of the growing Republican field; first, Matt Katz, of member station WNYC, has more on Chris Christie's announcement.

MATT KATZ, BYLINE: Standing on a stage at his high school gym in suburban New Jersey, surrounded by friends from his childhood, Christie said he was running for president as a candidate who would tell it like it is.


CHRIS CHRISTIE: You're going to get what I think, whether you like it or not or whether it makes you cringe every once in a while or not.


KATZ: Not surprising for Christie who burst onto the national scene in 2010 with a blunt speaking style captured in viral YouTube videos. In his announcement speech, he was blunt in his assessment of President Obama.


CHRISTIE: We need to have strength and decision-making and authority back in the Oval Office, and that is why today I am proud to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America.


KATZ: Christie didn't always have such harsh words for the president. He praised Obama for his response after Superstorm Sandy and he went after his own party instead.


CHRISTIE: There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims - the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.

KATZ: Christie's willingness to buck his own party bred so much goodwill in blue New Jersey that Christie won a 22-point re-election victory in 2013, with a majority of women, independents, Hispanics. He was seen as a top candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, But in building support from across the political spectrum, his associates went too far.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: At 2:11, Fort Lee traffic is a nightmare. The GW Bridge is totally gridlocked if you can...

KATZ: Last year, Christie's aides were found to have retaliated against the Democratic mayor who didn't endorse the governor. They closed two lanes to the George Washington Bridge for five days, causing epic traffic jams in that mayor's town. Christie was not implicated, but two top associates were indicted and face trial. He has taken a shellacking in the polls. To some, the tell it like it is image is tarnished. Christie is plotting his path back through New Hampshire where he hopes his style translates to votes.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Without everything further, let's give a nice New Hampshire welcome to Governor Christie and Mrs. Christie.


CHRISTIE: All right.

KATZ: Christie has been holding town hall meetings in New Hampshire. At a recent stop in Londonderry, a banner reading tell it like it is hung from the walls. Brenda Birdsall walked in undecided. She came out, though, a Christie supporter.

BRENDA BIRDSALL: Usually, I feel like politicians are - hate to say it - but are a used car salesman, but he seemed to be spot on with the answers and seems like he's a doer, not just a talker.

KATZ: On the night before his campaign announcement, Christie vetoed funding for clinics like Planned Parenthood. And he issued an executive order to consider loosening New Jersey's tough gun laws he had previously supported. Christie hopes those two moves are ones conservatives will cheer, especially in New Hampshire, where he has three town halls in the next two days. For NPR News, I'm Matt Katz. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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