New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announces presidential campaign

Once a frontrunner, Christie now enters the race as an underdog.
By Andrew V. Pestano  |  June 30, 2015 at 11:33 AM
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LIVINGSTON, N.J., June 30 (UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie formally announced Tuesday that he will seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016 as the 14th GOP candidate.

"I am now ready to fight for the people," Christie said in his announcement speech. "I am proud to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States of America."

The governor announced his candidacy at a town-hall-style event in his alma mater, Livingston High School in Livingston, N.J.

Christie joins the presidential race as an underdog when he was once seen as a frontrunner. He was considered one of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's top competitors for the GOP nomination in the 2012 presidential election, but Christie decided not the enter the race.

After Romney lost to President Barack Obama, conservative analysts were already setting the stage for Christie to enter in 2016, a position further affirmed after Christie went on to win a resounding reelection as governor in 2013 with more than 60 percent of the votes.

But Christie's streak has been cut short by political scandals and low approval ratings.

The "bridgegate" scandal seemingly caused Christie's approval ratings to sink to some of the lowest levels ever in New Jersey, with one Fairleigh Dickinson poll finding only 30 percent of people believing he's doing a good job.

The scandal erupted after it was discovered in early 2014 that several of Christie's former aides devised a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 to punish a local Democrat mayor who refused to endorse Christie's reelection campaign.

Although Christie has never been charged in the scandal and he has always asserted he never knew of the scheme until it was discovered, the scandal undermined Christie's political standing and presidential ambitions.

Christie also took flack from his own party after receiving and thanking President Obama for his response and aid efforts after Hurricane Sandy struck New York and New Jersey before the presidential election in 2012. Critics said Christie allowed Obama to look favorably to voters.

"If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don't know me," Christie said in a Fox News interview, asserting the affliction by the natural disaster is more important than politics.

He was then snubbed from the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference months after Hurricane Sandy and the political backlash, but he reappeared in the conferences 2014 and 2015.

Even Christie's aggressive demeanor is both attracting to supporters of his "Telling It Like It Is" style and campaign slogan, and repelling to critics, who have characterized him as a bully.

Despite the scandals and backlash, Christie has been able to find success of his agenda as a Republican governor in a largely Democratic New Jersey.

Among the crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls, Christie is mid-table in poll averages with four percent, according to Real Clear Politics.

Christie joins a wide field of competitors for the Republican nomination; 14 total.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and real estate tycoon and reality TV star Donald Trump have announced campaigns.

For the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley are in the running.

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