WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, addressing a conference of religious conservatives Friday, called for a broader "pro-life" agenda.
Christie told the Faith and Freedom Coalition that his efforts to create more charter schools in New Jersey and to provide alternatives to incarceration for drug possession are part of that agenda. He said he remains opposed to abortion but believes "pro-life" means more.
"I believe if you're pro-life, as I am, you need to be pro-life for the whole life," Christie said. "You can't just afford to be pro-life when a human being is in the womb. You have to be pro-life after."
Christie appears to be positioning himself to make a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. In recent months, he has been dealing with the "Bridgegate" scandal, allegations that several of his close associates orchestrated four days of traffic jams at the New Jersey end of the George Washington Bridge as political payback to the mayor of Fort Lee.
In his speech Friday, Christie painted his reputation as a blunt -- critics say bullying -- speaker into a virtue.
"Leadership is about telling people who you are and what you stand for, and then speaking it directly, loudly and understandably, so that not only do your supporters know who you are, but the people who are against you know who you are, too, and have respect for where you stand and who you are," he said. "And where you stand is where you're willing to fight, and that's what we need to do more of in this country."
The Faith and Freedom Coalition was founded in 2009 by Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition. The lineup of speakers at the Road to Majority Conference includes many of the potential 2016 contenders as well as former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the newly elected House majority leader.