New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joined a field of more than a dozen Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination, promising "strong leadership and decisiveness" as an answer to the anxiety that Americans are feeling.
Christie vowed to fix an entitlement system he said is “bankrupting our country,” achieve 4 percent economic growth, simplify the tax system, and reverse a “weak and feckless foreign policy” under President Obama. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he noted, has been part of that policy, and he warned Americans not to accept her as president.
In an unscripted half-hour speech at his old high school in Livingston, N.J., Christie demonstrated the brash style he’s come to be known for. His combative nature, observers say, has helped him win some key battles in a state where the Legislature is dominated by Democrats. Those victories include a cap on the rate of property tax growth and a “Dream Act” that grants in-state college tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants.
Now, it will have to help him gain traction in a field in which he apparently is polling too low to make it into the first televised debates this fall. There are now 14 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, compared with four who have announced their intention to vie for the Democratic nomination, including Clinton.
Born in Newark in 1962, Christopher James "Chris" Christie is a cradle Catholic whose mother was a Sicilian-American and father came from an Irish background. Christie earned a law degree at Seton Hall University and, after practicing law, was elected county legislator in Morris County in 1995.
According to National Public Radio, he first came to prominence as a corruption-fighting U.S. attorney for New Jersey, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001:
Christie went after public officials from both parties, eventually winning convictions or guilty pleas from 130 of them, by his count. The biggest name, former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, was convicted in 2008 on fraud charges.
He also obtained convictions for sexual slavery, arms trafficking, racketeering by gangs, and other federal crimes.
In January 2009, Christie declared his candidacy for Governor of New Jersey. He won the Republican primary, and defeated incumbent Governor Jon Corzine in the election that November. In 2013, he won re-election, defeating Democrat Barbara Buono by a margin of over 22%.
Christie was seen as a potential candidate in the 2012 presidential election, and though not running, he was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Following the controversial closure of toll plaza access lanes in Fort Lee in 2013, an internal investigation commissioned by the Governor’s Office found no evidence of Christie having prior knowledge of or having directed the closure. During a May 1, 2015 news conference, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman stated that, based upon the then-available evidence, his office would not bring further charges in the case.
According to Religion News Service, young Chris Christie attended Mass with his grandmother everyday. He’s fond of telling the story of how he announced that he stopped praying because he had prayed for a good grade on a test but got a C. The grandmother told him that “God always answers your prayers. But sometimes the answer is no.”
Christie has described his faith as “a huge part” of his life.
While he has stated that marriage is an "institution between one man and one woman,” and he vetoed a bill that would have legalized same-sex "marriage" in New Jersey, he signed a bill banning therapy that helps people overcome their same-sex attraction.
Early in his career, he described himself as pro-choice, but now says he is pro-life. This change of heart, he said, happened when he saw his first daughter’s heartbeat in utero. “It led to me having a real reflection on my position,” he said in 2011. “And when I took time to reflect on it, I just said, you know what, I’m not comfortable with that anymore.”
Christie has vetoed state taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood six times, including the day before announcing his presidential run.
He and his wife, Mary Pat, have four children.