NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Where two-term New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stands on various issues that will be debated in the Republican presidential campaign, a race he's joining.
Christie once supported a pathway to citizenship for people in the county illegally, but has changed his tune, telling ABC News in a recent interview that "circumstances on the ground have changed." Christie now says that talk of citizenship is a distraction because most people come to the country to work, not to vote. He has yet to lay out specifics of an alternate plan. While pressing for a secure border, as his GOP rivals also do, Christie is opposed to building a wall across the nation's entire southern border. In New Jersey, he signed a law offering in-state tuition to children brought into the country illegally who had graduated from the state's high schools. But he also joined a lawsuit seeking to block President Barack Obama's executive action to grant work permits to millions of immigrants in the country illegally.
Christie has logged frequent flier miles over the last year, taking trips to Mexico, Canada and Britain to beef up his limited foreign policy resume, while holding frequent Sunday evening briefing sessions with policy experts to get up to speed. If his recent remarks are any indication, Christie might make foreign policy a centerpiece of his campaign. He delivered a fiery speech laying out his foreign policy vision in New Hampshire, in which he called for a larger, stronger military and said the U.S. must project strength to keep aggressors in check. "All throughout the history of the world, it has been clear, direct, honest, unadulterated strength which those who are evil respond to," he's said. He is opposed to the current nuclear negotiations with Iran as well as normalizing relations with Cuba.
BUDGET AND ENTITLEMENTS
Christie has repeatedly vetoed tax increases in his state, and worked during his first term to cap spiraling property taxes. He also orchestrated a landmark deal with the state's public sector unions and Democrats in which the unions agreed to higher retirement ages and increased health care contributions in exchange for promised payments into the state's chronically underfunded pension system. But when state revenue fell short of expectations last year, Christie reneged on his side of the bargain, sparking lawsuits. And while Christie boasts of job gains since he took office, the state's economic recovery still lags behind its neighbors. That, combined with a large unfunded pension liability, has resulted in nine credit downgrades on Christie's watch. Nationally, Christie has made taking on entitlements one of his signature issues, proposing raising the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare for future retirees as well as eliminating Social Security benefits for those making $200,0000 a year or more.
As a governor from a largely Democratic state, Christie, a Catholic, has had to work hard to prove that he is conservative enough for GOP primary voters. That's been made more complicated by his record. Christie, for instance, supported abortion rights until, he said, he heard his oldest daughter's heartbeat during a prenatal visit. Now he says he opposes abortion rights except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman. But he says those in his party who call themselves pro-life should care about people outside the womb, too, a point he makes in emphasizing the need to provide treatment for drug abuse. Christie vetoed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in his state. But he withdrew a state appeal of a lower court's ruling legalizing same-sex unions when it became clear he had little chance of prevailing. New Jersey also has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but Christie, who ran his first campaigns for local office defending the state's ban on assault-type weapons, now says the state's gun laws go too far.
Unlike some of his rivals, Christie has made clear that he believes global warming is real and humans contribute to it — though he says he's not sure the extent to which humans are responsible. Still, he opposes cap-and-trade style programs and pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which he argued increased the cost of energy with little measurable benefit for the environment. Christie supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and has called for increased domestic energy production as well as more cooperation with Canada and Mexico.