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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Gov. Chris Christie Announces He Will Not Run For President
Aired October 4, 2011 - 13:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY (live): In the past (ph) months, I've been adamant about the fact I would not run for president. My language was clear and direct no matter how many times I was asked the question. For me the answer was never anything but no. My job here in New Jersey is my passion. I've always meant it when I've said, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to have this job. I'm doing a job that I love in the state I grew up in on behalf of some of the toughest and greatest people in this country.
It wasn't until recently that I paused to really reflect on my decision. When you have serious people from across the spectrum, not to mention from all across the country, passionately calling on you to do something as sequential as running for president of the United States, I felt an obligation to earnestly consider their advice. Together with Mary Pat and our children, I believe I had an obligation to seriously consider what people are asking me to do. I'll always be grateful for their confidence in me.
Over the last few weeks, I've thought long and hard about this decision. I've explored the options, I've listened to so many people and considered whether this was something that I need to take on. But in the end, what I've always felt was the right decision remains the right decision today. Now is not my time. I have a commitment to New Jersey that I simply will not abandon. That's the promise I made to the people of this state when I took office 20 months ago, to fix a broken New Jersey. And when I look at what we've accomplished so far, I'm proud but I know we're not nearly done. I've made this commitment to my state first and foremost.
The people sent me to Trenton to get a job done and I'm just not prepared to walk away. I know not everyone agrees with my decision but my loyalty to this state is what it is. Abraham Lincoln said, I'd like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives, I'd like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. That's how I feel in my heart about New Jersey, I'm proud of this state and its people, and I know there's still much more we need to do together to ensure the future we want for all of our children.
So, this is not the time to leave unfinished business for me. The stakes are too high and the consequences are too real. So New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me. Let me say this, I'm grateful -- I'm grateful to the many people both in New Jersey and around the country who have spoken to me over these last weeks and months. I'm grateful for their confidence in me. I'm grateful for the faith that they place in me. It's been unbelievably humbling and inspiring. I can only hope that I'm able to live up to this confidence and to make it count doing the job I need to do here at home.
QUESTION: Governor, you have never really closed the door on possible future presidential ambition for four years or eight years from now. Would you do that now or do you still have some interest that, hey, maybe there is a possibility?
CHRISTIE: I have interest in being employed in the future and I'm not going to preclude any employment in the future. You know, whether that be president or working at or working at NBC, Brian, so no, I'm not going preclude any chances.
QUESTION: Can you describe for us what happened in the past probably that made you want to go back and reconsider the decision that is coming back now?
CHRISTIE: Well, I didn't want to. But you know, when you have as many both really serious people come to you and tell you that you really needed to reconsider, and then all kinds of regular folks, I mean, we got a FedEx over the weekend at home from a farmer in Nebraska to my children -- asking my children to sit me down and tell me that it was OK to miss their games and their concerts and their events because our country needed me more and that if they did that, they would be remembered in the history books as the people who changed the course of our country's history. We got literally dozens of letters like that at home -- to our home address from people all over the country. And I think, as this all started to accumulate over the past couple of months, Mary Pat and I just decided, like, we better really rethink this.
And so, we did but in the end, my commitment to the state is what overrode everything else. I mean, I asked for this job, I fought hard to get this job. And my job here isn't done. And it just never felt right to me to leave now. And so, I rethought it because when as many serious people really earnestly come to you and ask you to do it, I think you have an obligation to rethink it, so we did but we came out in the same spot.
QUESTION: On another topics (ph)?
CHRISTIE: No, sorry.
CHRISTIE: No. You screwed around and now you're out. Next, Charlie.
QUESTION: A lot of discussion about the fact that the short primary schedule for Florida, that you didn't have a (INAUDIBLE) or preparation in those primary states and that -- also that maybe the recent experience with Rick Perry had given you pause? Can you talk about that (INAUDIBLE?)
CHRISTIE: No, none of them were a factor. And I have a great political team and they were ready to do whatever I wanted them to do, and I have complete confidence in them. None of that was a factor. In the end, the factor -- the deciding factor was it did not feel right to me in my gut to leave now when the job here is not finished. And I could never get by that, Charlie. And I had lots of people talking to me trying to get me by it, I could never get by it. And that's why I made the decision.
I can now go back to Kevin, since I had fun with him -- Kevin.
QUESTION: Thank you. Is there one particular person who gave you the most persuasive argument to run and if so, who was that and what was the argument?
CHRISTIE: Well, obviously they weren't that good. No, it really isn't. No, I wouldn't single anybody out. I mean, there were a lot of extraordinary people, extraordinarily accomplished people and a lot of really great regular Americans who wrote and called and tweeted and I mean -- you know, all kinds of stuff. And no, there isn't any one particular person, Kevin. In the end, you know, this decision's my decision, it's not anybody's else's decision and there was no one to convince me of it. It's got to be your decision and today this decision is my decision.
QUESTION: Governor, how much of this decision is based on your commitment to your family as opposed to your commitment to the people of the state?
CHRISTIE: Now, Let me dispel that because I've seen some, you know, really wild reporting about this. Mary Pat and the kids were completely behind me running if that's what I wanted to do. And you know, three weeks ago, Mary Pat woke me up at 6:00 in the morning and said, if you want to run, go for it. Go for it and don't worry about me and the kids, we'll be fine.
And so, Mary Pat, you know, in the last number of weeks has not been an issue at all and nor are my children. They were all great. I talked to all of them about it, obviously we talked a lot about it together as a family. And they were -- you know, they were all like, listen, dad, if that's what you want to do, it'll be fun. You know, my son, Andrew, said, you know, it will be a great adventure for us if you decide to do it. So, they were all great. So, it really was not a family decision. In the end, they laid it all on me and told me I had to decide. So I did.
QUESTION: Are you worried about losing your chance to run for president and do you think it will be better off if (INAUDIBLE?)
CHRISTIE: Oh, no. Listen, what I care most about is that the country is better. And I think the country will be better by making sure that President Obama is a one-termer. And so -- you know, no, I don't worry about that at all. And Beth, I don't think you can worry about that stuff. I mean, in the end, I have a great job that I'm really committed to and where we've made great progress. And I'm going to continue to do that job, and whatever the future holds, the future holds.
I mean, I don't think any of you -- you've covered me during the campaign in '09 and probably didn't think that , you know, two years later, you know, in October of '11, asking me if I thought I'd miss my one chance to run for president of the United States. So, life takes you in a bunch of different directions.
QUESTION: Governor, there's a new poll that's coming out today that shows that there's 17 points -- that if you ran against Romney, you would reach that 17 points and that you would beat President Obama (INAUDIBLE.) Congratulations, you could have been a contender (INDAUDIBLE.)
CHRISTIE: No. I mean, you can't make these decisions with any regret, Marsha. How could I be regretful being governor of the state of New Jersey? I mean, I -- you know, I have a great job and I love doing it, and I'm doing some great things here. And there's a lot of great things still to accomplish. And so, I don't feel any sense of regret at all. You know, I felt like it was my obligation, as I said before, given the seriousness and the amount of people who were coming to me and asking me to reconsider -- to reconsider. And I did and I thought a lot about this. I spent a lot of time, but in the end, I came back to the same place I was in the whole last year when everyone was asking me, which was, I don't want to leave this job. I made a commitment to the people of New Jersey to fix the state and do this job. And it just never felt right to me to leave. And so I didn't.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) why is that so important? (INAUDIBLE.)
CHRISTIE: Well listen, any advice I have for the people who are running, I'll give directly to the people who are running. I know you'd like me to use you as a conduit, but I'll resist the temptation. And the reason it's so important is because the president has failed. And if you want to know why it's so important, you were there, read the speech I gave at the Reagan library. I think this is, you know, just an example of somebody who has failed the leadership test. And more than anything else in these jobs, what I've learned is there's no substitute for knowing how to lead. Everything else you can be taught. You can't be taught how to lead and how to make decisions. And unfortunately, even though there are areas as you know that I support this president in, overall, he's failed the American people, because he's failed that absolute litmus test to be president of the United States and that's to know how to lead and decide. And he hasn't done that.
QUESTION: Governor, you said there's still work to be done. What happens next (INAUDIBLE?)
CHRISTIE: Nothing's changed. I mean, you know, Terry, listen, it's just that all you showed up today and I get to have this press conference. But nothing has changed. And you know, education reform is still my number one priority for the lame duck session. And whatever we can't get done there will be a top priority for the next session of the legislator. And so, all of the things that I've talked about over time, nothing has changed in that regard. And you know, this has been, you know, a real interesting time for me.
And I, you know, continue -- I will continue to speak out when I feel compelled to on issues that's matter for the country. And the only thing I feel -- if I -- you know, you asked if there was any regret, Marsha. The only regret I have is that, you know, I've given such great TV exposure to some of the local reporters, I mean who's going to have cats (ph) on TV now that I'm out of this race? Nobody is going to have cats (ph) on TV, you won't be able to get on News 12 for god sakes. So you know, that's about the only regret I have is that.
CHRISTIE: I'm not prepared to make any endorsement today. You know, as I've said before, I'm not a halfway kind of guy. If I feel like there's someone in the field who is -- gives us the best chance to defeat the president, I'll endorse that person and I'll work hard for that person. But I'm not in a position today to make that judgment.
QUESTION: Governor, as you know, people have been asking you to run since the past 17 months or so, in the past few months, the drum beat has gotten louder. Why do you think that's been? And was Nancy Reagan among one of them?
CHRISTIE: Well first off, why the drum beat has gotten louder? I just don't know, you'd have to ask the people who were beating the drums. But obviously I noticed it got a lot louder and that's why I decided to reconsider the decision.
And as far as Mrs. Reagan, I had a great time with her last Tuesday at the Reagan Library. It was one of the great honors of my life to be invited by her to speak there. And we had a great dinner together.
And whatever conversation I had with Nancy Reagan is between me and Nancy Reagan. And that's why I think all the reporting about this has been a little bit careless because I know who was at the table that night. Maybe some of them overheard things that she was saying to me. I don't know. But whatever occurred between me and Mrs. Reagan, is between me and Mrs. Reagan and nobody else.
Steve, in the back.
QUESTION: You (INAUDIBLE) said during your countless denials of running (ph) that to be president you have to be (INAUDIBLE) president. Did you, at that time, (INAUDIBLE). If that is a factor in your decision, do you believe at this point you are ready to be president?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, you know, my view on that is that that's not even a relevant question anymore because I've made the decision not to run. And I made the decision not to run because I believe in my heart that this is where I belong. That I made a commitment here to the people of this state.
And I'll tell you, Mary, Pat and Andrew and I were out to dinner on Friday night and I had a whole bunch of people come up to me and say, you know, I really hope you run for president if that's what you want to do, but I'll really miss you here. And that did a lot to reinforce what I was already feeling myself, because when you get into this whirlwind a little bit, you begin to, you know, not -- lose your bearings a little bit. And people in New Jersey got me back on course over the time that this has been publicly considered.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE), Governor Christie, we have an election coming up in 2011. And to what degree are these legislative contests (ph) an opportunities for you to advance your agenda and really a referendum on what you've done in the state so far?
CHRISTIE: Well, I don't know -- I don't see it as a referendum, Bob, I really don't, because these things are district by district races. And given the condition of the map and all the rest of that, I don't see it as a referendum on me. I see it as a referendum on the candidates who are on the ballot.
We have some good candidates on the ballot from our side that I'm trying to help as much as I can. And to the extent that they get elected, they will help me to move our agenda forward more rapidly than it's moving now. But on the other hand, you know, I found a way to get some things done, even though we don't have the legislature. So, you know, we have some tools. We'll see how we do.
In the back?
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) before you decided (INAUDIBLE) no, before you decided it was no, how far did you get in the planning process? (INAUDIBLE) did you ever get to that point?
CHRISTIE: Well, as I said in the statement, you know, I explored a lot of options and I listened to a lot of people. I made the final decision last night.
QUESTION: Governor, did you consider yourself a game changer or an underdog (INAUDIBLE)?
CHRISTIE: Neither. You know, I didn't really take a lot of time thinking about it that way. I am who I am. I think, you know, there's not a lot of varnish here. So people would have judged me, I suspect up or down based upon what they see. And what they see is what they get. And New Jersey has learned that. And, you know, to the extent that we had some appeal for people around the country, I think it was probably based on that.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) What does it say about the (INAUDIBLE) on the subject of jobs that we also rule out (INAUDIBLE)?
CHRISTIE: I don't -- on the first part of that, I don't think it says anything particular about the field. I'd like to think it says something about me. And, you know, there are folks who feel like what we've done here in New Jersey, in a blue state, in bringing people together and getting things done is something that they'd like to see in the country. And I think that's what it was really all about, Jon. It wasn't my charm and good looks, you know that. So it was, you know, I think it was the accomplishments that we have here in New Jersey that made people excited that maybe divided government could work, maybe, you know, leading in a very bold and direct way could forge compromise. And I think that's what that was all about.
And I've answered about vice president a bunch of times. And, you know, the fact is, I don't think there's anybody, you know, in America who would, you know, necessarily think my personality is best suited to being number two.
QUESTION: Last time you were asked (INAUDIBLE) you were clearly still thinking about it. That was not a no.
CHRISTIE: Well, sure it was.
CHRISTIE: Sure it was. Listen, it's a no until -- wait, now, Lisa, it's a no until it's a yes. I mean, it's a no until it's a yes. I mean, I -- what I said was I'd reconsider my no. And I did. But the no never changed, as you can tell from standing right here today and I'm saying no. so, that's the same kind of answer.
And, you know, listen, I know it's your guys' job to ask me this question like, you know, a dozen different ways, and I'll answer it almost a dozen different ways, which infuriates my staff. But, in the end, the answer remains the same as it always has been.
QUESTION: Governor, could you shed a little light on the reaction to the speech at the Reagan Library and the reconsideration?
CHRISTIE: We were in the midst of the reconsideration when I went to the Reagan Library, so it really didn't make a difference in that regard. I mean, you know, those are things that I feel and I've felt for some time. And I thought that was the appropriate forum to speak out about them.
But, no, the speech itself or the reaction to the speech really didn't have any effect on my decision-making process. It was great to be there. I enjoyed the evening tremendously. I thought I had some important things to say, which is why I said them. But, in the end, you know, it didn't have an effect on my decision of how I was going to do things.
QUESTION: How do you know we won't be here three months from now, six months from now on the eve of the Republican National Convention where the people inside the Republican Party coming back to you, once again, to reconsider?
CHRISTIE: Because I've said no. And I've spoken to a lot of people this morning and told them the answer is no, so they could hear it from me personally. A lot of people who have encouraged me and the people who were serious. And I think they understand that this was a long shot for them to change my mind in the first place, but that I felt an obligation, given, as I said before, both the seriousness and the amount of people that were asking me to reconsider, to reconsider. But in the end, they didn't change my mind because I feel in my heart what I'm doing is right, and that is to stay in New Jersey, to stay committed to the job that the people of this state gave me, and it's just -- again, I can't emphasize this enough. If you're looking for something else, it's not there. It just didn't feel right to me, to leave before the job was done and --
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) searching around?
CHRISTIE: I don't know. You have to -- listen, again, I think in response to Jon's question -- Jonathan's question, it's the same thing. I, you know, I --
QUESTION: If the Republican Party looking for a --
CHRISTIE: No, you've got to let me answer first, you know. You're new here. You don't know the rules. People in the front here will let you know, that's not allowed here.
The fact is, I think it's about what we accomplished here in the state. And I think that's why. They weren't searching. They came right to one target. And it was me. And it's been me for a long time.
I think it's because of what we've accomplished here. And I'm proud of that. But there's a lot more to do here. This state was pretty messed up when I took it over and we're making great progress towards fixing it, but we're not there yet. And so I think that's what it was about. And I don't think it's a reflection on other folks.
CHRISTIE: Well, you know, I found that the advice I got from other people who had run for president was very dependent upon whether they won or lost, you know? The ones who lost typically called it something like a nightmare and the ones who won typically said it was really awful. So it was a slight difference, but not a significant one in terms of making your decision.
No one, to me, endorsed the joy of running for president, in my experience. Nobody really talked about that. Everyone talked about the sense of duty and obligation and honor and excitement about it. But, you know, nobody said, hey, this would be a really good thing to do if you have nothing else to do, you know. It was -- it was not characterized that way.
Beth. QUESTION: Governor, (INAUDIBLE) spoken with any of the other candidates (INAUDIBLE). Do you think that your reconsideration (INAUDIBLE) for them and (INAUDIBLE) express their way (INAUDIBLE) to reconsider (INAUDIBLE)?
CHRISTIE: Well, I think -- I think a bunch of the people who are candidates wouldn't say something like that because I think they want me to think kindly of them. So even if they were annoyed, I think they withheld their fire.
And I -- you know, none of them said it to me. No. And I don't think it was that kind of sense. I mean I think the people who objectively looked at this saw this was not something that I stoked. This was something I kept trying to, you know, push off, but eventually just became more than I could push off without giving those folks a real serious reconsideration. Which is what I did. And now, you know, I've made the judgment and that's that.
QUESTION: What do you see now as the role for your voice in the national stage as part of (INAUDIBLE) issues, (INAUDIBLE)?
CHRISTIE: You know, look at the Reagan speech. I mean the Reagan speech is my statement on the state of our country, both at home and around the world. And the things we need to do to fix it. I thought long and hard about that speech. I wrote most of it myself. And I -- and it's how I feel about where our country is and the challenges that we face right now and what we need to change it.
So I'll continue to speak out, as I said before, I think. I'll continue to speak out on issues that really matter to me. And when I think my voice can be useful. And so I'm going to continue to play a role in these things to the extent that I can be helpful. And I'm vice chairman of the RGA, so I'll be working for Republican gubernatorial candidates around the state, around the country rather, over the next, you know, year and a quarter or so.
And so there will be a lot for me to do. And if there's other things that people want me to do, I'll consider doing them as long as they're not inconsistent with me being able to really perform my duties here at home.
QUESTION: Governor, in your reconsideration process that you spoke about (INAUDIBLE), but did you also look ahead and think that (INAUDIBLE) worry about running the risk of losing (INAUDIBLE) primaries and the nomination and then maybe -- and running the risk as well of losing (INAUDIBLE) back here at home, losing momentum back here at home (INAUDIBLE) not winning re-election?
CHRISTIE: You worry a lot more than I do, Charlie. You need to -- really, I've -- we've got to get you some help. You're obviously overwrought. It's so great to know Charlie's so worried about me and my future. Wouldn't -- couldn't tell it from reading his columns, but that's all right. I always thought you had one (INAUDIBLE), Charlie.
QUESTION: The process of reconsideration (INAUDIBLE), you already said that you were already in the process (INAUDIBLE) the Reagan speech. (INAUDIBLE)?
CHRISTIE: It's -- Matt, you know, I didn't mark it down in my diary, OK. I mean, you know, it's an evolving thing. I had lots of people, as you all know, you know about lots of the different contacts that I had and folks who approached me and, you know, I can't say there was a moment. Mary, Pat and I -- at one point, I don't remember when it was, had a conversation. We said, you know, we better start really thinking about whether we need to reconsider this decision. And it certainly was in the last few weeks, but I can't pinpoint it date.
QUESTION: Governor, how did you family research (ph) (INAUDIBLE)?
CHRISTIE: That's such a shock to people in New Jersey, right? I, you know, I mean, what's -- you know, I don't even know how to address that. That's crazy. It's crazy. I mean it really is.
So, you know, listen, you can -- that's when I knew that I could actually win. When they started -- when all these people started shooting at me before I even got in the race. So that's when -- that's when you really know you got something special is when they start shooting at you before you get in.
But, you know, listen, I've said all along, I'm a principled conservative. And -- but I also said in the Reagan speech, as Ronald Reagan did, you have to compromise at times to get things done. And that doesn't mean compromising your principles, but it means not getting everything you want.
Now, someone calls that liberal, being compromising, then they're dead wrong. In the end, you know, you look at Ronald Reagan's record. This is what I talked about at the library. Ronald Reagan had a record that was replea (ph) with principled compromises in order to move our country forward. Someone wants to accuse me of that, more than happy to wear that mantle like Ronald Reagan did.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) from New Jersey (INAUDIBLE) to try to stay neutral and not endorse the primary candidate. Obviously you are the leader of the Republican Party here. (INAUDIBLE) decision, are your party members (INAUDIBLE) endorsement at the county level? Is there some candidate who now (INAUDIBLE) that support?
CHRISTIE: You know, that's all stuff to be seen in the future. I think it's very important for the Republican Party in New Jersey to play an important role in determining who the nominee of our party is going to be. And I'll continue to give advice. Advice to folks in my party, in the state, about how we should conduct ourselves in the presidential process and hopefully my advice will be followed. And we'll see how it goes. Let's go. Terry.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) can you say (INAUDIBLE) seek reelection (INAUDIBLE)
CHRISTIE: No, I can't say that. I have no idea. I haven't begun -- I haven't to think about that. I'm not yet midway through my term. And you know, there'll be a -- there'll come a time when I have to make that decision. But one of the things I've learned, you know, is that you don't make any decision before you absolutely feel like you have to. I don't feel like I have to make that decision now, so I'm not going to make that decision now, no.
CHRISTIE: Sure, I -- you know, not to respond, but listen, I have a good -- I think you guys know this. I'm not particularly self- conscious about this. Like, it's not news flash to me that I'm overweight, you know? And so I saw -- I saw Letterman's "Top 10 List." I thought, you know, probably 8 out of the 10 were really funny, you know?
And so I saw that. I saw some of the stuff that some of the other folks did. You know, listen, you got to know who you are in this life, you know? And I think for me, their job is to be funny. And if one of things they want to make fun of is my weight, then, you know, it's fair game. I'm a public figure, so they can make fun of it.
All I care about is that they actually are funny, you know, so that I can at least laugh about it while they're mocking me, you know? So -- and I thought, you know, Letterman's had some funny stuff. The guy who was sent off to go and come up with jokes that weren't about me being fat -- that guy was really good, you know? And you know, so there was a lot of good spots that they did that I found funny. I watched them.
And some of the stuff I didn't see initially, and Andrew would come to me, you know, with his computer, go, Hey, Dad, did you see this one?
CHRISTIE: So he's been grounded, but...
CHRISTIE: But you know, Ginger, it's really -- it's not something that is -- bothers me. I'm not self-conscious about it. I'm self- aware. And you know, it is what it is. And hopefully, they just -- you know, they continue to be funny. You know, that's the most important thing. If they're going to poke fun at you, let's just make sure you laugh in the process, you know?
Brian? QUESTION: Did (ph) your advisers put together a scenario of how you could indeed advance through the primaries and win the nomination? And then, in the end, at what point in the past couple of days -- was it this morning, last night, (INAUDIBLE) morning -- did you finally say, No, I'm not going to do it?
CHRISTIE: I made the decision last night. I made the decision last night, and I called my folks this morning and told them and told them and told them I wanted to announce it this afternoon. So you know, I went to -- I went to bed last night for the first time in a few days knowing exactly what I wanted to do. And then I called everybody this morning and let them know what we were doing. And that was it. So not a very complicated process.
And you know, as for the politics, again, it was never a consideration. It was about me getting to the point where I believed it was OK for me to leave, and I never got there, Brian. I mean, it's just -- I never could justify the idea of leaving the state early and before the job was done. And so that's kind of where -- you know, where it sat. So I -- you know, the rest of it's kind of irrelevant.
QUESTION: Governor, I know what you said about your personality, but if the Republican nominee asked you to join him, would you consider it?
CHRISTIE: Listen, I don't imagine I'm going to be asked. I just don't think I have the personality to be asked. I mean, seriously, can you imagine? You know, the guy would probably want to, you know, get a food taster. You know, I don't know.
CHRISTIE: I mean, seriously. I just don't -- I don't see it. But you know, it's -- again, it's not relevant, Jason, it really isn't. And I don't -- I don't see it happening. You don't run for that job. I'm not looking for that job. And after everything I've said today, you know, this is the job I want and this is job I want to do and that I'm going to keep doing as best as I can do it over the course of time the people of the state give me the opportunity to do so. So that's what will be -- you know, that's what I'm not focused on. I'm not focused on the rest of it.
CHRISTIE: How could I have gotten in?
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) in terms of the actual on-the-ground, you know (INAUDIBLE) campaign, what would (INAUDIBLE)
CHRISTIE: See, I have to point out to all of you who are new here that Lisa is getting very, very good because she anticipated my answer when I began to interrupt her, and she's now lost the moment for us. So I have no other answer, Lisa. That was my answer, I would just get in.
I mean, this isn't hard. I've run campaigns before. I've run lots of campaigns before. If you wanted to get in, you get in. And any time you get into a race there are pluses and there are minuses to your candidacy. I have never seen for any candidate a pro and con list put together where there were all pros and no cons. Never happens. So you know, every (INAUDIBLE) decide to get into something, you get in. That's the way it works.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) so what I'm wondering is do you not have faith that (INAUDIBLE) Republican Party (INAUDIBLE)
CHRISTIE: Not an issue (ph). I have complete confidence in all those folks, but I'm the guy who got elected. This is a matter about my commitment to the people of the state when they elected me. It's not about any lack of confidence that I have in anybody else. It's about the fact that I'm the one who made the commitment. I'm the one who asked for the job. I'm the one who campaigned for the job and asked for it. And that's, you know, in the end, what it was all about, was my commitment to them.
And it does not reflect any lack of confidence in any of the people that I work with at all. It's just about my commitment to the folks who voted for me and who elected me, and even to the folks who didn't vote for me, but who now, you know, have me as governor. It's my commitment to them. That's what it's really all about. It's not about any lack of confidence in them.
QUESTION: I was wondering if, even though you're not in the race, you think that President Obama is vulnerable (INAUDIBLE) vulnerability (INAUDIBLE)
CHRISTIE: No, you know, I'm not a political analyst. I don't get paid to be one on TV. And so I'm not going to sit here and talk about vulnerability. Halperin does that all the time. He'll write a book about it. But I'm -- it's not my job to do that.
If I have a particular advice for any of the Republican candidates, the appropriate way for me to convey that advice is get on the phone and talk to them directly, and not through all of the cameras. And so if I have advice, if I have observations on that stuff, I'll give it to them directly, but I'm not going to do it out here.
QUESTION: Governor, some of those pundits in the last couple weeks have suggested that the question of weight as an overall issue of, Should a person be elected if they weigh a certain point -- should be taken into consideration. Taking you out of the equation...
(LAUGHTER) QUESTION: Taking you out of the equation, is that a fair question to put to any candidate, Are you too overweight to be president? Is that a fair question to ask?
CHRISTIE: No. It's not. And you know, Ginger asked me before about the comedians, and I think that they've been great and they have free rein to do what they want to do. The people who pretend to be serious commentators who have wrote about this are among the most ignorant people I've ever heard in my life.
You know, to say that because you're overweight, you are therefore undisciplined -- you know, I don't think undisciplined people get to achieve great positions in our society, and so, you know, that kind of stuff is just ignorant. And the people who wrote it are ignorant people.
You know, at least the comedians don't try to pretend to be serious. They're comedians. They're making fun of it. And that's fine. But some of these folks who have written that stuff in what pretend to be serious columns, you know, they're just jokes. And what they do is, they further stigmatize people in a way that is really irrelevant to people's ability to do a particular job.
And so you know, those are the people that we should really, you know, look down upon, are those folks. The comedians, they get paid to do that stuff. And like I said, as long as they're funny, what the hell do I care?
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) people are looking for something in you, and you wondered why those people (INAUDIBLE)
CHRISTIE: I still think that -- I still think that -- let me say it this way, Darryl. I still think that the debate has to get onto the really important issues. And I think that, you know, the public, to an extent, is really hungering for that, to get onto the issues that we all know are the really important issues.
How do we deal with our short-term deficits? How do we deal with our long-term debt? How do we reform a tax code that's putting a wet blanket over our economy? How do we improve America's standing in the world if we don't have our house in order at home? How do you intend to do all of that and telling people the truth about, you know, moving us from an entitlement society to an opportunity society, trying to make sure that those things are available for our kids?
I don't hear a lot of conversation about that. I hope to hear it. And one of reasons that I gave the speech that I gave at the Reagan library -- and I think I said this at the time -- was to try to spur more of that discussion, try to -- I said that in the Q&A, I think -- is to try to -- try to spur a discussion on this stuff, to try to nudge people along to do that.
And that's what I'm going to continue to try to do because I think that's what's in the best interests of our country. And that's my, you know, first obligation as a citizen is to speak out on the things that I think are in the best interests of our country.
So that's kind of, you know, where I sit on that one, Darryl. I think it's up to the candidates themselves to decide. It's their campaign, so they get to decide what they think they want to convey and what they want to communicate. In my view, they should be communicating -- I'm freaking you out, aren't I...
CHRISTIE: In my view, they -- you know, we should be communicating things on the really important issues, and I don't think that they've done that yet to a large extent.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) you talked about your personal experience being in elected politics over the course of (INAUDIBLE) How much were your decisions and thoughts guided by your experience running for Assembly after you had first won (INAUDIBLE) and then ultimately your decision in '05 not to run for governor (INAUDIBLE)
CHRISTIE: You know, not really. It was really about this. It was about this job, it was about this place in, the end. You could argue any side of any of that stuff, Josh, that, you know, you're right or wrong about those decisions. And believe me, I've had people, you know, tell me that I was right in one point and wrong in another. And that's not really the issue.
The issue for me, again, was I made a commitment to the state, and in the end, I could not get by in my mind and my heart the idea that I was going to leave here 20 months into my term. I just couldn't get by that. I felt like I owed the people of New Jersey more than that.
And despite the fact that I am incredibly inspired by all these people who have said all these amazing things to me, and I think meant them -- that's one thing. But to get by the idea that I worked so hard to get this job and asked for it, and then to walk away from it after 20 months -- that was the only factor, in the end. I could not get by that.
Anything else could be dealt with. I could not get by that. And as long as I couldn't get by that, then there was no reason to have any further discussion. So that's where it sat.
(END OF CNN'S COVERAGE)