A frank and candid Chris Christie offered advice to Republican voters when asked what they should focus on in an election year. He added that it’s not just about electing Republicans, but also ensuring the party is led by one that wants to “govern.”
“I’m going to save the Republican party and allow it to take off,” the New Jersey governor told CBS News’s Sunday Morning program.
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Christie’s popularity has plummeted in the wake of a humiliating bridge scandal, which resulted in the resignation of his deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and possibly closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge, a crucial commuter route in the northern part of New Jersey. Those actions are believed to have been undertaken to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie’s reelection in 2013.
He denied that his own role was involved in the scandal, but said it was “absolutely true” he was briefed on an email discussing traffic in Fort Lee, New Jersey, a Democratic-leaning town, in 2012.
“I don’t want people thinking about what happened at the bridge and wasting their time with it,” Christie said.
Democrats quickly pounced on Christie’s comments.
“Crazy claims by @ChrisChristie like ‘my play is to try to make sure we get back to winning’ are exactly what we need from a major party figure,” tweeted New Jersey congressman Frank Pallone.
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Christie said he doesn’t plan to make any formal announcement about his candidacy for president this year.
“I’m not going to make any grand announcement,” he said. “It’s going to be a private decision.”
Christie conceded that he is likely to face another challenge from Kelly, who is married to Christie’s nephew. “Look, she married my nephew and is my daughter’s godmother, and I guess you might see the problem,” he said.
Christie offered some insight into his campaign this way: “I have an entirely different vision,” he said. “It’s just a different one. I mean, I’m going to treat people the way I would want to be treated, I’m going to treat them in a way that I hope they’ll treat me.”
Given the low expectations he must meet to even consider a run for the White House, Christie said, the key was to “stay focused, make it an exciting campaign, find out where the voters want to go, what the issues are that unite us, and how we win.”