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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Governor Chris Christie

Aired June 14, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Could the next president of the United States come from New Jersey?

Tonight, I'll talk to hometown boy made good, Governor Chris Christie, and find out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I'm making this decision based on whether I believe in my heart that I'm ready to be president of the United States and that I want to be president of the United States right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The Tea Party loves him, and Democrats fear him. Sounds like the formula for a perfect Republican presidential candidate.

Chris Christie says he's not running for president. Well, not yet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I'm 100 percent certain I'm not going to run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: He's a budget-slashing reformer, a tough-talking former federal prosecutor, and a Jersey boy born and bred.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are adorable.

CHRISTIE: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: He's a Bruce Springsteen fanatic.

So, could Chris Christie secretly be born to run?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: What's your favorite song, "Born to Run"? CHRISTIE: No. "Thunder Road."

MORGAN: Did you see what I did there? Born to run?

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: Yes, I saw that. I went back over it. "Thunder Road," Piers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: Governor, welcome back to your old gym.

CHRISTIE: It's great to be here.

MORGAN: Does this bring back warm memories? Horrible memories?

CHRISTIE: Incredibly warm and happy memories for me. I mean, my -- almost all that I am was developed in this place. It really was.

MORGAN: But in the gym specifically.

CHRISTIE: Oh, yes. Listen, I played sports here, and it was -- it was a great place to grow up, and we had great athletes that I played with the years that I was here. And it -- you know, I watched my own son now play high school baseball and I --

MORGAN: Well, I heard you were a bit of a baseball star here.

CHRISTIE: You know, listen --

MORGAN: Trophy cabinet littered with your triumphs.

CHRISTIE: Yes. Now, I don't know, I think that's probably overstating it. We had a lot of great players. I played, which was a triumph.

MORGAN: But you were good?

CHRISTIE: I was pretty good, yes. I was pretty good.

MORGAN: You were a hot athlete in your day?

CHRISTIE: I was a good catcher. I was a good baseball catcher and a good leader on the team.

MORGAN: Talking about being leader on the team, I loved this quote I found from Stephen Sweeney, the Democratic president of the state Senate here. Who said about the difference between his style and yours, "The difference is that I have an off switch and Chris doesn't. You know, if I knock you down, I'll pick you up, brush the dirt off your back, try and build the relationship, and go forward. Chris knocks you down, like with the teachers, and he'll stomp on you, kick on you until he can kill you."

CHRISTIE: Very dramatic, but not true, you know? Very dramatic but not true.

MORGAN: Not true?

CHRISTIE: No. Listen, you know, I'm tough when I have to be, the same way Steve is tough when he has to be. But in the end, I'm about getting things done and you don't get things done by stomping people until they're dead.

You get things done by standing for your principles. And letting people know that that's what you stand for. And then that can make appropriate compromise possible.

But being squishy does not allow to you make appropriate compromise possible.

MORGAN: See, to a Brit like me, even your accent seems intimidating. It's the kind of thing --

CHRISTIE: Good. I'm glad about that.

MORGAN: Yes. You're like, a sort of political of Tony Soprano.

CHRISTIE: Others have said that, Piers. Others have said that.

But, you know, just like, you know, James Gandolfini would say if he were here, you know, there's some of that that is for effect. And you have to. I mean, part of what we do --

MORGAN: Do you like the fact that you have this slightly intimidating reputation?

CHRISTIE: I don't like or dislike it. It's just kind of what it is. It's who I am.

And I think what people in New Jersey have gotten to know about me over the last decade that I've been in public life is what you see is what you get. And I'm no different when I'm sitting with you than I am when I'm at home or anyplace else --

MORGAN: Yes. But right now, I'm getting sort of -- you know, this is a very civilized conversation we're having. You're very polite. You're very friendly. But I've seen some of these YouTube videos of you in action in these town halls, and you're on the rampage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Well, and you -- and listen, and teachers go into it knowing what the pay scale is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: Well, what I am --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Lacerating these people, taking no prisoners.

CHRISTIE: I'm responding to --

MORGAN: In the words of Mr. Sweeney, taking them down, stomping on them, and killing them.

CHRISTIE: I'm responding to their attempted laceration of me. And if you look at the YouTube videos, what you're going to find is -- I mean, I see this at my town hall meetings all the time now.

I say, listen, here's the last rule. If you want to screw with me, that's great. And if you do it in a polite and respectable way, you'll get a polite respectable disagreement back. But if you decide you want to take me for a walk, well then, you're going to get that response as well.

MORGAN: I mean, you take no prisoners. You like a fight.

America right now is in the fight in its life as a nation, particularly economically. Do you think America needs somebody like you who's going to be tough?

CHRISTIE: I think America needs lots of tough people. Not just me. I think America needs to get tougher, all of us.

We need to understand that it's time to step up and pay for what we want. And you know, we haven't been doing that for a long time, and both parties have been guilty of it.

MORGAN: Tell me about your upbringing here. New Jersey man, born and bred. Tell me about the early days.

CHRISTIE: Well, you know, my parents moved here to this town from Newark, when I was 5 years old, so I could go to this school system because it's one of the best school systems in the state. And they borrowed money, $1,000 from each one of my grandmothers, to put a $2,000 downpayment on a $22,000 house that my father was able to get with his V.A. mortgage from having served in the Army. They wanted to come here for their kids.

And so, when we sit here and you ask me, you know, is there warm feelings, there's incredibly warm feelings being back here because everything that I become are due to two sets of people, my parents and the teachers that I had in this school system and in this school.

MORGAN: Your mother died very sadly five, six years ago. And it was an awful end to her life.

But you had this very poignant time with her before she died where she said to you -- two things struck me. One was she said you can go back to work because there's nothing left unsaid between us, which I found very moving when I read that. Also, she said to you, going forward, and I'm sure she had great, like all mothers, great aspirations for her boy -- she said never worry too much about being loved, focus on being respected, because if you're respected, then you can find love down the road, people will love you for it.

CHRISTIE: Yes. Listen, I miss her every day. She was incredibly, incredibly strong. And the end of her life was really very difficult for all of us, and it came very suddenly.

But the greatest gift she ever gave me was that last moment I had with her in the hospital when she said go to work, there's nothing left unsaid between us.

You know, that's the way she taught us to be our whole lives. And I think part of my personality is a reflection of that statement, because it wasn't just something she said that day. It was the way she taught us to be our whole lives.

MORGAN: It's an amazing thing for a mother to be able to say to a son. You know, most people I know, there are things left unsaid. Why was it you two were able to not have that situation? How come you've been so open with each other?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think part of it was being the oldest son. I mean, I have a great younger brother Todd and a great younger sister, Dawn, but I think there are always special relationships between a mother and their oldest son.

MORGAN: If you were being honest, what do you think your mother would have said were your best qualities, and what would she say would be your not so great qualities?

CHRISTIE: I think if -- the best quality she would say is brutally honest, tough, and compassionate. And I think on the worst quality she would say quick to judgment.

MORGAN: The great unspoken is the presidential run that's not happening. You said -- I think more likely you'll commit suicide than run for president. Can we hold you to that, Governor?

CHRISTIE: Yes, you can.

MORGAN: Is that one of those little jokes where you think, hang on, maybe I went too far there?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, my wife didn't like the jokes. I mean, what I said was, what do I have to do to convince you that I'm not going to run for president, commit suicide? You know, that's kind of my humor. My wife didn't think it's the funniest thing I've ever said.

But --

MORGAN: Here's the thing. I don't understand why you wouldn't want to run this time. I mean, you've got the economy in tatters. Your record on that is pretty strong. You're admired for it. Your poll ratings have been going up.

There's no clear candidate. I've interviewed most of them. No one is screaming "vote for me" yet.

You're the guy that the party likes. You got the admiration of the public. Why wouldn't you?

CHRISTIE: Because that's not the way you make decisions like running for president of the United States. To put it really simply, I don't want -- if I ever were to make that decision, I wouldn't want to say, "I know I can win, I hope I'm ready." I'd rather say, "I know I'm ready, I hope I can win." And --

MORGAN: Why aren't you ready?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I've been governor for --

MORGAN: How old are you now?

CHRISTIE: I'm 48.

MORGAN: How old is Barack Obama?

CHRISTIE: He's about 50, I think, right?

Listen, if it were just about calendar, John McCain would have beaten Barack Obama. You know, if that's the way you gauge readiness.

MORGAN: No, but my point would be that to take on Barack Obama right now, he's flying high on the back of bin Laden being killed, yet the economy is perceived to be a weak point, which it was always going to be, tough to come out of a big recession like that. Your party is crying out for a savior, somebody that they think has maybe the youthful energy and dynamism to combat that strength in Obama, someone who's got an economic track record.

You know, when I look all the checklists, there aren't many names on it that tick the right boxes right now for Republicans. You tick most of those boxes.

CHRISTIE: And you know what? Those are all I think appropriate and maybe accurate tactical judgments. That's not the way I'm making this decision. I'm making this decision based on whether I believe in my heart that I'm ready to be president of the United States and that I want to be president of the United States right now.

MORGAN: You're a straight talker, right?

CHRISTIE: Yes.

MORGAN: We're 18 months away. It's a long time in politics.

CHRISTIE: It is.

MORGAN: It's a long time in life. I don't believe this is 100 percent closed to you. And I don't think you could look me in the eye, given everything that's going on, and say, Piers, I'm 100 percent certain I'm not going to run. Can you?

CHRISTIE: You're wrong. I'm 100 percent certain I'm not going to run.

MORGAN: Let me rephrase the question.

CHRISTIE: Sure.

MORGAN: You're 100 percent certain you won't run this time. Are you 100 percent certain you won't run in 2016?

CHRISTIE: There are so many variables to that, Piers. I couldn't say I'm 100 percent certain.

MORGAN: Give me a percentage.

CHRISTIE: I couldn't.

MORGAN: Given you're not running this time -- who do you think right now is the best option for your party to take on Barack Obama?

CHRISTIE: I don't think we have a best option yet.

MORGAN: Who most impresses you personally?

CHRISTIE: A lot of those folks impress me personally. But none of them have emerged in my mind yet as the best option. When one of them do, I'll say it publicly.

But I'm not ready to do that yet because I don't think any of them have yet distinguished themselves to say this is the best person not only to take on Barack Obama, but more importantly, to lead our nation in the next four years after this election.

MORGAN: Hypothetically, if you were in the game, three top issues for you, what would they be? What would you run on if you were running?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think the three top issues are the three top issues for anybody. Not for me or anybody else. The three top issues have to be restoring jobs and private sector job growth to our country, getting the entitlement mess under control, and restoring back to our country a sense of self-confidence that Americans can achieve whatever we want to achieve.

And so, jobs, restoring fiscal sanity, and restoring a sense of hope and confidence to our people -- I think are the three most important things.

MORGAN: I want to take a short break, Governor. When we come back, I want to talk to you specifically about the economy, how to get America back to work. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: So that was the home dugout, the visiting dugout.

MORGAN: So when you come out here in your old pitch here, what do you think? What do you feel?

CHRISTIE: An incredible rush of memories and really good feeling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Why do you think America got itself into such a terrible mess economically? What do you think was the problem?

CHRISTIE: Greed, and because no one wanted to tell anybody the truth. The truth was you can't continue to spend the kind of money our spending on all these entitlement programs. I think we need more people in public life who are willing to say, no, we can't afford certain things. No, we can't do certain things.

We've got to wind up being honest with people. I think we got ourselves in this mess because some people in the financial industry became incredibly short-sighted and greedy, and we had government officials who refused to say no.

MORGAN: We obviously have a situation where a lot of bankers and banks have been bailed out by the taxpayer effectively, and then having made their money back, the first thing they do is award themselves massive bonuses all over again. Have they learned any lessons? Would you have done something different to stop them being able to do that?

CHRISTIE: I probably wouldn't have done anything different to stop them to do that except to use the power of the bully pulpit if you're president to call attention to it and to try to shame them into doing something different. I don't believe in that kind of heavy- handed regulation where we're saying, you know, we're going to tell you how much you can pay people.

But I do think that what really caused the problem was not so much the high-pay, was just the incredibly risky securities that they were creating and selling and spreading kind of like a cancer through the system that really caused the incredible downturn that we had in 2008 and 2009.

MORGAN: Is it time, do you think, that the administration, the next president, whoever it may be, made domestic issues absolutely the primary focus?

Because it seems like for the last eight, ten years, ever since 9/11, really, a lot of the folks has shifted t focus has shifted to Iraq, to Afghanistan, the hunt for bin Laden. Trillions of dollars being spent on these wars. Libya we now see blowing up, all the Middle East and everything.

Where would your focus be right now for America?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think I talked about it when you asked about priorities. You know, I think it's about creating private sector jobs, which is bringing more investment home. I think it's about getting our fiscal house in order, which means looking at every way we spend money.

MORGAN: Would you pull the troops out of Afghanistan now?

CHRISTIE: You know, I wouldn't do it now. But I would be guided by what our military advisers told us to do. But I do think that capturing bin Laden and killing bin Laden was one of the real goals of the original Afghanistan intervention. And I'm not a nation-building kind of guy. So --

MORGAN: But Americans have to be by default the world's policemen. And a lot of Americans I talked to are getting a bit fed up with spending all this money when there are so many problems at home, on being the world's policemen. There are other superpowers emerging.

Would you like to see a spreading of that load going forward, where America's not the go-to country -- for military support, for helping out with despotic regimes and so on?

CHRISTIE: Well, America's always got to be the leader in that regard.

MORGAN: Does it have to be?

CHRISTIE: I think it does --

MORGAN: I mean, look at Libya and the way President Obama dealt with that. You know, he quite deliberately decided America wasn't going to be the leader.

CHRISTIE: Yes. But we really are. I mean, come on, let's face it, we are. He's calling the shots. And we all know that.

And so, let's not be kidding because they call it something different. America's taken the responsibility.

Now, do I think there has to be shared sacrifice among other nations in the world who want a stable and secure world? Absolutely, there has to be. But I don't think that America can ever abdicate its leadership role in the world because of who we are and where we've come from. We are the symbol for the world for freedom and liberty.

MORGAN: Is President Obama a good leader?

CHRISTIE: I think he's a -- I think he's a good leader. Sure. Listen, he's the president of the United States.

And, you know, I don't -- I disagree with him on a lot of substantive issues. But I'm not one of these people that says that somehow, you know, he's not a legitimate leader. He was elected president of the United States. The people spoke on that issue.

MORGAN: And that's good enough for you?

CHRISTIE: It's a democracy. It's good enough for me.

MORGAN: What is your simple economic philosophy?

CHRISTIE: I don't know if there's a simple economic philosophy. But I believe in entrepreneurship. I believe in the power of the individual to create great wealth and great opportunity in this country.

I look at somebody like Mark Zuckerberg, who I've gotten to know over time here in New Jersey, who, you know, from his dorm room at Harvard has created a worldwide phenomenon. Only in America could that happen.

MORGAN: Mark Zuckerberg gave $100 million to education, put into schools.

This has been a huge deal for you, this battle you have with education unions. They've accused you of bullying them. You've been pretty vigorous in your response, saying that, you know, if you want to go into teaching, you know the pay grade, there's no point squealing about it when you get there. If you don't like it, don't go into it.

CHRISTIE: Listen, what I really want is accountability. And I think most great teachers want accountability. I mean, the teachers I had in this school that helped make me who I am, they would never fear accountability because they knew they were doing a great job, and they watched children develop under their watch.

And all I'm saying is that every child in New Jersey deserves the kind of education I got in this building. Every one of them does. And we're paying more per pupil per year than any state in America. So, we're paying for it.

MORGAN: One of your most famous residents recently who was complimentary and scathing about you in equal measure. And I won't say who it was. Where she was scathing when she said, if he believes so much in the education system in this state, why doesn't he send his children to a public school?

CHRISTIE: Well, that's none of her business. That's my choice, and my wife's choice. We happen to believe that a religious education is an important part of an overall education for our children. So, we've decided to send our children to Catholic school because we believe that.

It's no shot on the public schools. I'm a graduate of the public schools. My wife's a graduate of parochial schools.

When our child became 5 years old, I wanted him to go to public school. She wanted him to go to parochial school. All of our kids go to parochial school.

So, you can figure out who wields the power in the Christie household.

And so -- but I've come to agree with her that I think it's an important part of our children's growth as human beings. And so, we've made that choice.

But guess what? I still pay $38,000 a year in property taxes, most of which go to the public school system in my town. And we don't utilize it. And I don't complain about it because that's my responsibility as a citizen of my town and my state.

But then don't tell me that I can't be serious about public education because I don't send my children there. Every child is my responsibility in this state. And that's the kind of liberal know- nothing thinking that just drives me crazy.

MORGAN: In that exchange, I could see the fire welling up inside you.

CHRISTIE: Well, that kind of stuff annoys me.

MORGAN: I could see a bit of the real Christie there.

CHRISTIE: Well, that's just part of the real Christie because what you were seeing before is the real Christie, too. You're not just one type of person. And neither am I.

MORGAN: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about you?

CHRISTIE: That I'm running around always being tough and angry and yelling and screaming. But if you bring up my children and my choice and my wife's choice about how we school our children and that somehow that diminishes my voice and my leadership on education, that's such baloney, I can't stand it. So, then you are going to see a little fire in response to that.

MORGAN: Somebody who's admired you from afar but never met you before today, I'll admit that I was a little disappointed in chopper- gate, as it became known, the helicopter argument. And the reason was that your prosecuting career had so clearly positioned you as a guy that was just completely anti all form of corruption, anything that looked like corruption. And when you just read a bare headline, "Governor uses state helicopter to fly to kid's baseball game," you sort of wince a bit.

Why did you do that?

CHRISTIE: Because I'm a father first. And because I had demands at the state house and then demands that evening that had been re- planned before I knew my son would have a state championship baseball game. And I wanted to be there for him.

And I miss a lot of stuff with my kids, and I'm not complaining. That's the nature of my job. And I asked for this job. In fact, I worked hard to get it.

But I'm a father first. And that was the way I could get to my son's game that day.

MORGAN: Do you regret it?

CHRISTIE: No. I make no apologies for it.

MORGAN: But you paid the money back?

CHRISTIE: Well, I paid the money back because I thought it was important to let the public know I wasn't using this as a perk of office.

MORGAN; Wouldn't the traditional Christie route be that if you believed absolutely what you'd done was the right thing to say, no, I'm not paying the money back, it's the right thing? In a funny way, I would have preferred you to do that. I would have went -- he's standing by his guns. When actually, you're trying to have it both ways -- you're giving the money back so, you're admitting it was wrong, but then you're looking at me and saying I don't regret it.

CHRISTIE: No, I'm not admitting that it was wrong. What I'm saying is if the public perceives for a moment that I'm using that as a perk of office, I want to take that away from them right away. But I would not make a different decision if I had to do it again because it was important for me as a father to be there for my son.

MORGAN: But given all the criticism you got, are you honestly telling me you would do that again?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I'm going to be the best father I can be, and I'm going to use whatever I have at my disposal to try to balance, you know, the interests of my job, which I take extraordinarily seriously, and the interests of my children, having me present in their lives.

MORGAN: Yes, but would you do it again?

CHRISTIE: Yes, I probably would. I probably would. But I'd pay for it.

MORGAN: So that would be the difference?

CHRISTIE: Yes. So I just would take the perception away from it.

MORGAN: Governor, we're going to have another break. And when we come back, I want to ask you what you feel guilty about, as a good Catholic boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You were always a bit of a high flyer here -- president of everything, right?

CHRISTIE: Senior class, junior class, sophomore class -- yes, all the way through.

MORGAN: Even as you're saying that your chest is puffing out with pride.

CHRISTIE: Sure. Winning beats losing, Piers.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMEMRCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Row two, from the first, second row. One, two, three, four people in. There I am.

MORGAN: Yes. You're like some kind Olympian athlete.

CHRISTIE: Well, it was 31 years ago, Piers.

MORGAN: What happened?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You're a Catholic.

CHRISTIE: I am.

MORGAN: When I interviewed Mitt Romney he made which I thought was quite a surprising statement that he intended to divorce all matters of his faith from his political life. And I figured that he did this because he sees being a Mormon as a potential weakness to the electorate.

Do you see that you can do that? Can you divorce being a Catholic with all that that means and all you stand for as a Catholic -- and I'm a Catholic -- from running for high office?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think that you have to understand that we are not a religious democracy. That, you know, we -- religion to me is a personal thing. And so, you know, I have to make certain decisions. My decisions are going to be based -- being made based on what I think is best for all the people of New Jersey.

Now, my Catholicism informs part of who I am. But it does not rule who I am. And so I --

MORGAN: I'll ask you what I asked him. And he refused to answer.

CHRISTIE: OK.

MORGAN: Is homosexuality a sin? CHRISTIE: Well, my religion says it's a sin. I mean, I think -- but for me I don't -- I've always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so, I think if someone is born that way, it's very difficult to say then that that's a sin. But I understand that my church says that. But for me personally, I don' t look upon someone who is homosexual as a sinner.

MORGAN: You support civil unions, but you don't support gay marriage. Can you see a situation where you would change your mind about that?

CHRISTIE: I don't think so. I believe marriage is an institution between one man and one woman. I think it's special and unique in society. And I think we can have civil unions that can help to give the same type of legal rights to same sex couples that marriage gives them.

But I just think marriage is a special connotation. And I couldn't see myself changing my mind on that. But I am in favor of making sure that homosexual couples have the same type of legal rights that same -- that heterosexual couples have.

MORGAN: On abortion, quite controversially for a New Jersey Governor in waiting as you were, you came out strongly against it. Obviously, this is a pretty liberal state before you became Governor. Tell me about that, obviously an interesting -- not dilemma, but for you a position to take that you knew probably would be quite controversial here.

CHRISTIE: Well, I just told people about it right up front. I mean, I'm pro-life. I believe in exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. But I do believe that life is precious and should be protected.

MORGAN: And you had this feeling firmly when your wife with one of your children was 13 weeks pregnant.

CHRISTIE: Yes.

MORGAN: And you saw a scan, I think.

CHRISTIE: No, I heard a heartbeat. What happened was I had been pro-choice before that. And I would call myself kind of -- before that, a non-thinking pro-choice person. It was just kind of the default position that I took.

And then when my wife was pregnant with our daughter, Sarah, who is now 15, we happened to go to one of the prenatal visits at 13 weeks. And they put the Doppler on my wife's abdomen, who didn't look at all pregnant at that point visibly. And we heard this incredibly strong heartbeat.

And I remember we came separately. She came from her job. I came from mine. We went back to work. And I was driving back to work, I said to myself, you know, as to my position on abortion, I would say that a week ago that wasn't a life. And I heard that heartbeat. That's a life. And it -- it led to me having a real reflection on my position. And when I took time to reflect on it, I just said, you know what, I'm not comfortable with that any more. That was back in 1995, and I've been pro-life ever since.

MORGAN: Part of the thing of being a Catholic is you confess the sins. Obviously in light of Weiner-gate, Schwarzenegger-gate, and so on, is there anything you want to get off your chest?

CHRISTIE: You don't look like a priest to me, Piers. So, no.

MORGAN: Well, should we be ever worried about any skeletons tumbling out of the Christie closet?

CHRISTIE: You know, listen, any confessions I need to make, I'll make to my wife and to my priest, not on CNN to you, pal.

MORGAN: Well the other thing of being a Catholic is feeling guilty. Do you ever feel guilty about stuff?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I had a Sicilian mother. Guilt was like, you know, a staple served on the kitchen table, you know.

MORGAN: What do you feel most guilty about?

CHRISTIE: It depends on the day. The thing that I feel most guilty about, my weight.

MORGAN: Really?

CHRISTIE: Yes, because I'm really struggling, been struggling for a long time with it. And -- and I know that it would be better for my kids if I got it more under control. And so I do feel a sense of guilt at times about that.

MORGAN: Why do you think you've had a battle with your weight?

CHRISTIE: If I could figure it out, I'd fix it.

MORGAN: You don't know what it is?

CHRISTIE: I don't.

MORGAN: Do you ever get help for it?

CHRISTIE: Sure, plenty of times.

MORGAN: Where do you fall down in terms of dealing with it?

CHRISTIE: I eat too much. I mean, it's not a complicated thing. And you know, it's one of the things, everybody has faults.

MORGAN: Is it -- is it the one jibe about you that really stings? CHRISTIE: No. No, because I know the people who jibe me about that are just ignorant. They're just ignorant. Because, it doesn't matter. It's my issue. And I -- when people talk about those kind of things, I -- I think it just displays their ignorance.

Because, in the end, it doesn't have any effect on the way I can do my job. And so, if they're commentating about me as Governor and decide they want to do that, you know what I conclude? I must be doing a damn good job, because if that's all they got to jibe me about, amen, man, I'm having a good day.

MORGAN: Final question for here, do you think you would make a good president?

CHRISTIE: You know, my wife was asked this question and she said yes. I'll leave it at that.

MORGAN: Governor, we're now going to leave gym, which I'm sure you'll be quite relieved about. And we're going to go to a few other interesting locations in the life of Chris Christie.

CHRISTIE: Excellent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: So we're in a very classic New Jersey diner here. How much of your life have you spent in places like this?

CHRISTIE: A lot, especially when I was running for office. I mean, diners are one of the key places to campaign. New Jerseyans spend a lot of time in diners. And for this one, this is the diner of my youth. I mean, this is the place --

MORGAN: When you come here, what do you get out of it? Other than nice food and coffee?

CHRISTIE: It was a place to socialize for teenagers, a place where we could come. We could buy some food that was affordable and was good. And we could have fun. And they didn't kick us out.

MORGAN: I couldn't help but noticing a sort of frisson of excitement when you came in, governor. You're popular with the locals.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, this is my hometown.

MORGAN: I mean, the most famous New Jersey celebrity is probably Bruce Springsteen.

CHRISTIE: Yes.

MORGAN: Who has given you a few whacks.

CHRISTIE: Yes, he has.

MORGAN: How do you feel about that? CHRISTIE: It's OK.

MORGAN: Is that the New Jersey way?

CHRISTIE: I think it is. And it's no surprise to me, because Bruce is a liberal and, you know, he and I have different political philosophies. But I've been to 125 of his shows.

So, you know, I love him. I love his music. I love the way he performs.

MORGAN: What's your favorite song, "Born to Run?"

CHRISTIE: No, Thunder Road," "Thunder Road."

MORGAN: See what I did there? "Born to Run."

CHRISTIE: Yes, I saw it and I went back over to "Thunder Road," Piers. "Thunder Road" is my favorite. It's my favorite. But yes, listen -- and I grew up as Bruce was becoming prominent. You know, my high school years were the "Born to Run" years, the "Darkness on The Edge of Town" years.

MORGAN: I would imagine that he, like you, like everyone I've met in New Jersey, straight talkers, no bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You know, they call it as they see it.

CHRISTIE: Yeah.

MORGAN: Not going to suffer fools.

CHRISTIE: No.

MORGAN: That's the kind of vibe I get here.

CHRISTIE: It is. And that's the vibe of the state. I mean, folks here are tough and they're edgy. But they've really -- got big hearts. So they're willing to welcome you in. But don't cross them.

The other thing New Jersey hates is phonies. And we can smell them from a mile away.

MORGAN: Why are you looking at me that way?

CHRISTIE: You know, it's -- we're still evaluating you, Piers. We're still evaluating you. You're trending positively, but we're still evaluating you.

MORGAN: A lot of people say that in American politics, because of the scale of the country, what you do statewise doesn't have to be the same as what you would do on a national level.

CHRISTIE: I think philosophically on those kind of big broad issues, for me, I would bring the same approach and the same ideas to a higher job that I would to this one. But where it gets a little tricky is there might be certain things that I would be in favor doing as a governor, where as a president I might back off a little bit because I think it's the right of the states to do certain things.

MORGAN: I would imagine that you would run America rather like they run this diner. You would want to make it as an attractive place as possible for people to come and invest in, spend their money. But in terms of the business end of the operation, keep costs to an absolute minimum, provide quality, you know, make sure you have good, reliable, loyal staff.

And in the end, feel that you're providing a snapshot of what America should be all about.

CHRISTIE: Absolutely. I couldn't agree with you more. That's what you try to do. And I don't think it's very complex. I think sometimes we try to make things too complex. And that's why Ronald Reagan was such a popular American president with the American people, because he didn't pretend to be into every detail.

But he said here's the direction we're going in, here are the things I stand for. And that's sometimes where the president -- the current president gets himself in trouble, is I think that he -- he does seem a little bit too detail-oriented, a little bit too professorial.

MORGAN: Too micro.

CHRISTIE: A little bit too in the weeds. And I think people want an American president that strides across the country in -- and brings us a philosophy and a principle that he's willing to stand by. I always thought that one of the best things about Reagan was that if you presented a different fact problem, you could probably guess what Reagan would say on it, because people felt like they knew him.

MORGAN: I agree. I think it's very important. Talking of which, we're now going to go and meet one person I think you're genuinely scared of, your wife.

MORGAN: There's no question. Real fear.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MORGAN: So, Governor, we're now in your kitchen.

CHRISTIE: Yes.

MORGAN: And we've now reached the boss in your relationship, which is your wife, Mary Pat. Mary Pat, I've spent a lot of time with your husband today. He's a fascinating character in many ways, had a lot to say about you, mainly of the you wear the trousers in this relationship. Is that an accurate description?

MARY PAT CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE'S WIFE: No, I think we're more of a team than one person wearing the trousers.

MORGAN: They say behind every successful man there's a good woman prodding him on. Do you go along with that?

M. CHRISTIE: I definitely think I'm a good woman. But we really do work as a team. And we really have helped each other both in our careers and in our personal lives.

MORGAN: Did you ever imagine that you'd end up being a Governor's wife.

M. CHRISTIE: Not really, no.

MORGAN: It is better or worse than you hoped.

M. CHRISTIE: Oh, I think it's been great, it's been really great. It's been a tremendous honor of just such a privilege to represent the state, really didn't imagine it would be so exciting and eventful.

MORGAN: There's lot of talk of your husband possibly running for the presidency. When I asked him about it, I absolutely got the sense that he didn't feel he was ready and that collectively, as a family, you kind of agreed with that. Is that right?

M. CHRISTIE: Yes, I'd agree with that. We have, as you know, a large family, four children at really pretty crucial ages in their development and a lot of moving parts in this family. So I think, as a team, we all decided it probably wasn't the right time.

MORGAN: What if your country needs him?

M. CHRISTIE: Well, I'm sure his country could use him but his family needs him too.

MORGAN: Could you imagine him not one day running for presidency? Isn't it just -- he was -- we went to his school -- we went to his school this morning and there he was, he was president of every single thing in the school. So the whole school must have called him president for years on end.

He goes to baseball, he wins that. You know, everything he does, he wants to be number one. And he's already been called president for ten years.

M. CHRISTIE: Yes, look, I think there are so many things that Chris can do with the rest of his life after he's governor, hopefully for a total of eight years. And I think he could be president, I think he'd be a great president.

But I think he'd also be a great CEO. He'd be a great person to stay home and, you know, teach college classes. I think he could do anything he wanted to do.

MORGAN: What is it about him, do you think, that if it came to it, if it came to a presidential race, why should Americans vote for him?

M. CHRISTIE: Because Chris has an -- an unbelievable ability to succinctly analyze a problem, come up with solutions, listen to people and then communicate the solutions. I mean, that's really what I think.

And you know, there's no better communicator I know.

MORGAN: And I asked him as a good Catholic boy to tell me about any sins he wanted to absolve himself of, because I'm Catholic as well, so I think we could have this sort of mini confessional.

M. CHRISTIE: Lovely. We need a priest.

CHRISTIE: That's exactly what I told him.

MORGAN: He actually said that -- he said actually he would only admit these to you. Anything you want to share with us?

M. CHRISTIE: No, not at all. Not at all. Nice try, Piers.

MORGAN: What's the single biggest misconception about your husband, do you think?

M. CHRISTIE: Probably that he's mean. I mean, he's just the nicest guy, and funny.

MORGAN: He's the nicest, most ferocious prosecutor you've ever met, right?

M. CHRISTIE: But he's a really good person. I mean, as a prosecutor, he's overriding -- his focus was to never prosecute the wrong person. I mean, people will never know how hard Chris worked at not prosecuting someone that he wasn't absolutely confident they were guilty.

MORGAN: Bit of a pussycat really?

M. CHRISTIE: Well, I don't know about that.

MORGAN: Wouldn't go that far?

M. CHRISTIE: You're putting words into my mouth, Piers.

MORGAN: That can be really damaging.

M. CHRISTIE: Yes.

MORGAN: So we're going to have a short break and then get to the really interesting bit, where we bring in two of your children to tell me what he's really like. Right you two?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: So we're now going to be joined by two of your children, I'm delighted to say, Sarah and Andrew, welcome. SARAH CHRISTIE, DAUGHTER OF CHRIS CHRISTIE: Hello.

MORGAN: Now, Andrew, you're now very famous, because, of course, you were the one playing baseball when daddy got his helicopter. So were you embarrassed? Were you proud of him? How did you feel?

ANDREW CHRISTIE, SON OF CHRIS CHRISTIE: No, I mean, I -- I really was just happy that he coming to the game. He told me a week -- when we won on our last game on Friday, he told me that it looks like I think the only way I'm going to be able to get there is the copter.

And so I kind of laughed and said, well, that's fine if you're going to be able to make it. And my whole team kind of knew in advance. They were staring at the helicopter as it landed. But it was good. We ended up winning. So that was --

MORGAN: Well, I'm very pleased. Congratulations. He has said he may do this again. Now, are you happy if that helicopter comes into sight again in the middle of the game?

A. CHRISTIE: Maybe -- maybe it was a good intimidation tactic. I don't know.

MORGAN: Well, you are at an age -- how old are you now?

A. CHRISTIE: Seventeen.

MORGAN: Well, you're at an age where you're getting quite political. You're nearly able to vote. When you look -- are you a Republican by nature, would you say?

A. CHRISTIE: Yes.

MORGAN: When you look at the other candidates doesn't part of you think, wow, wish the old man would run, because he'd have a better chance?

A. CHRISTIE: Well, you know, I -- I guess part of me thinks that, a little bit, but I -- I don't think for us personally as a family and for him it would be the best idea.

MORGAN: Now, come on, I understand your kid sister being scared of the White House. You -- you have already measured out the Lincoln room. I mean, come on. How cool would that be?

Imagine the chicks. Hey, you want to swing by the White House tonight for a cocktail? Don't tell me you haven't thought about it.

A. CHRISTIE: Oh, I've definitely thought of that. Yes, and it would definitely be cool, as I said. But, you know, probably right now. Maybe in a few years though.

MORGAN: Now, you two know your dad better than most people. So when he looks me in the eye and says, it's 100 percent certain I will not run in 2012, should I believe him. A. CHRISTIE: Yes. No doubt about it.

MORGAN: When he says that, he means it?

S. CHRISTIE: Because I ask him that all the time too. I'll hear stories and stuff and --

MORGAN: Why would you keep having to ask him if -- if when he says it, you believe him?

S. CHRISTIE: Well, I just want to be sure, because I just don't want him to. Making sure he's not running.

MORGAN: Now I saw back at the school pictures of your old dad when he won the state championship in baseball. And he looked athletic like you do, Andrew. But he did say in my interview earlier that one of the reasons that he wants to lose weight now is for his children. What do you think? Would you like him to?

A. CHRISTIE: Of course. Yes, you know, I'm -- I don't know. I think Sarah is pretty concerned about it. She expresses that often. And, of course, everyone would love him to lose some weight.

MORGAN: Sarah, why are you concerned about it?

S. CHRISTIE: I just want him to be healthy. And I think he'd be happier. And I just think, you know, it'd be one less thing people could, you know, say about him.

MORGAN: Yes, as his daughter, do you get upset when people poke fun at him.

S. CHRISTIE: Yes, because it's not like, you know, he chooses that, necessarily. And it's just -- I think it's a stupid thing to make fun of him for but --

MORGAN: Finally, you two, what would you say are the best things about your dad and the most annoying?

A. CHRISTIE: The best things. I think the best things are that he is always someone that I can talk to about almost anything. You know, he's been there for me my whole life as a coach, as a father. And we just pretty much can relate to everything together. So that's really nice.

A lot of people say we're a lot alike.

MORGAN: You are alike.

And Sarah, I can't even imagine what he's like when you try and bring boyfriends around. I'll bet he's a nightmare isn't he?

S. CHRISTIE: He told me that -- in the campaign, I'd asked if I was going to have to have state police with me all the time. He said only when he thought I was in danger. And that was whenever I was with a boy. I was not too happy about that. MORGAN: What would you say are his best and worst characteristics?

S. CHRISTIE: Best? I don't know, kind of like what Andrew said. He's always been there. He -- he -- I think he does his best and he succeeds in making his family a priority, and just kind of always reminding us like -- it's like before he went out to give his speech on election night, the six of us huddled in like a circle.

And he was just like, this is all crazy, but just remember that these six people here were, you know, all that really matters right now. And we're going to go out there and we're going to try to do our best for New Jersey. And, you know, just it really reminded -- it reminds us all the time about how your family is going to be your best friend and they'll always be there.

MORGAN: A group political huddle, I like it. And what would you say is the negatives about -- about your dad.

S. CHRISTIE: He's very -- well, he makes fun of me for this, but I always say he's very embarrassing. I don't know, it's just -- like blasting like Usher music in the car.

MORGAN: Oh no. You just killed off any chance he has. He plays Usher music?

Well, look, it's been great to meet you. You're obviously a very close loving family. And whatever does happen, I wish you all the best of luck.

CHRISTIE: Thanks Piers.

MORGAN: Thank you very much.