LIVINGSTON, NJ — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie officially entered the GOP Presidential hopeful fray on Tuesday.
Backed by the music of Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi, Christie announced his candidacy at his alma mater high school in Livingston, NJ. He joins Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and former Florida governor Jeb Bush as candidates seeking the highest office in the land.
Many are expecting Ohio governor John Kasich to stretch the field to 15 candidates on July 21st.
Christie, a two-term governor, has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with the people of New Jersey. He speaks in plain tones and is not afraid to ruffle feathers. He’s comfortable in his own skin. In the past he has reached across the aisle to Democrats in the Trenton State House. Those same Democrats also tried to destroy him over lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in what became known as “Bridgegate”.
New Jersey, positioned between mega-cities in New York and Philadelphia, owns a unique blend of industry and tourism, huge pockets of wealth and poverty and serves as home to powerful unions and their employees. It all makes managing the state a tricky affair when it comes to reform.
“I am not looking to be the most popular guy who looks in your eyes every day and tries to figure out what you want to hear, say it, and then turn around and then doing something else,” Christie said. “When I stand up on a stage like this in front of all of you, there is one thing you will know for sure. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean, and that’s what America needs right now.”
The theme of Christie’s campaign: Telling it Like It Is.
The timing of Christie’s announcement comes after another plain-speaking candidate — Trump — announced his candidacy. Trump has already created a firestorm over his announcement remarks regarding illegal immigration and he seems to be relishing his early role as a GOP non-conformist, reformer and deal-maker.
Christie will need to differentiate himself from his cross-river opponent when it comes to plain-talk. Trump’s popularity skyrocketed after his campaign announcement. It will be interesting to see if Christie can achieve the same rocket-like lift for his candidacy.
Another challenge for Christie will be playing up his role as a state governor. Christie represents one of five (six if Kasich enters) former state governors currently in the field.