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Carl Lewis says Christie tried to dissuade him from running for Senate

  |   Jan. 22, 2014 at 12:34 PM
TRENTON, N.J., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried to discourage him from running against a Christie friend in a state Senate race.

In an interview with ABC News Tuesday, Lewis said Christie called him to try to dissuade him from running against Christie's friend, Republican state Sen. Dawn Addiego.

Lewis the Star-Ledger of Newark the Christie administration canceled a plan to make him a "youth fitness ambassador" for New Jersey after he announced he would run.

"I put USA against my chest and ran against the Russians. I can handle the governor," said the nine-time gold medalist in track and field. "To me it was like sports."

Christie, sworn in Tuesday to his second term, has been accused of bullying tactics in two scandals that have surrounded his administration during the past two weeks, but Lewis told ABC News he "would not call the governor a bully."

"I think that everyone says the governor is a bully. I don't see him as a bully per se, I see him as someone who is very insecure, who's now governor," Lewis said, adding he did believe Christie was "trying to intimidate me."

"I didn't feel intimidated because I didn't think I could be intimidated, but there was no question that I think his intention was for me to back down and not to run," Lewis said.

Lewis did mount a run for the Senate seat in 2011, but withdrew after courts ruled he did not meet New Jersey's residency requirement. He now lives in Houston.

The Christie administration said Lewis' comments stemmed from his being told he was ineligible to run.

"Mr. Lewis was a genuinely impressive human being and Olympic athlete," Christie spokesperson Colin Reed said in a statement. "Unfortunately, this coming now is obviously a sour-grapes rehash of a clear-cut legal issue which did not fall his way. Mr. Lewis was disqualified from running on the basis of residency by every court -- state and federal -- and lost at every level, including all of his appeals."

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