After speaking passionately and movingly about the people in his life who’ve made his rise to national prominence possible, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) finally announced, from his high school alma mater on Tuesday, that he was running for president of the United States.
And of course, he began his remarks by touting his record as the Governor of New Jersey
“When I became governor six years ago, we had a state that was in economic calamity,” he said. “A state that had its taxes and fees raised on it 115 times in the eight years before I became governor. A state that no longer believed that any one person could make a difference in the lives of the people of this state.”
“And so we rolled up our sleeves, and we went to work,” he continued. “We balanced six budgets in a row, we refused to raise taxes on the people of this state for six years, we made the hard decisions that had to be made to improve our education system.”
And yet, he went further than merely listing his conservative credentials. At a time of immeasurable dysfunction on Capitol Hill, he also played up his reputation as a fair-minded — and effective — chief executive.
“Americans are filled with anxiety,” he said. “They’re filled with anxiety because they look to Washington, D.C., and they see a government that doesn’t even work anymore; it doesn’t even talk to each other anymore; it doesn’t even try to pretend to work anymore. We have a president in the Oval Office who ignores the Congress, and a Congress that ignores the president.”
“We need a government in Washington D.C. that says ‘you went there to work for us, not the other way around,’” he added.
Interestingly, however, he also criticized his own party, both in characteristically harsh and strong terms.
“Both parties have failed our country,” he declared. “Both parties have led us to believe that in America, a country that was built on compromise, that compromise is somehow a dirty word.”
“If Washington, Adams, and Jefferson thought compromise was a dirty word, we’d still be under the crown of England,” he added.
Similarly, too, unlike most politicians, Christie also pledged to continue being open and honest with his constituents — which is, arguably, his greatest and most refreshing quality as a presidential contender.
“We must tell each other the truth about the problems we have, and the difficulty of the solutions,” he said. “But if we tell each other the truth, we recognize that truth and hard decisions today will lead to growth and opportunity tomorrow for every American in this country.”
That line, as it happens, touched on the two overarching themes of his campaign announcement: inclusiveness and optimism. Towards the end of his remarks, however, he took a parting shot at the current occupant of the White House — and issued a warning to America.
“After seven years of a weak and feckless foreign policy run by Barack Obama, we better not turn it over to his second mate, Hillary Clinton,” he intoned. “In the end, leadership matters. It matters for our country and American leadership matters for the world. But if we’re going to lead, we got to stop worrying about being loved and start caring about being respected again, both at home and around the world.”
“I am not running for President of the United States as a surrogate for being elected Prom King of America,” he 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.”