Chris Christie Announces 2024 Presidential Bid

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced he would seek the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2024 presidential election in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, June 6.

Speaking to a crowd at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Christie spent much of his time attacking Donald Trump, who has also announced a bid for the presidency.

“Beware of the leader in this country, who you have handed leadership to, who has never made a mistake, who has never done anything wrong, who when something goes wrong it’s always someone else’s fault. And who has never lost,” Christie said, referring to Trump.

“Beware – because that leader will not only not serve you, they will not be able to find anyone that will serve them. And a lonely, self-consumed, self-serving, mirror-hog is not a leader,” he continued.

Christie also attacked “pretenders”, who he said were attempting to appeal to similar audiences as the former president without linking themselves to Trump, saying: “And so now, we have ‘pretenders’, all around us, who want to tell you: ‘Pick me because I’m kind of like what you picked before, but not quite as crazy. But I don’t want to say his name’ because for these other pretenders he is, for those of you who read the Harry Potter books, like Voldemort. He is He Who Shall Not Be Named.”

Christie repeatedly accused Trump of narcissism, saying: “Well let me be clear, in case I have not been already: the person I am talking about, who is obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault, and who always finds someone else and something else to blame for whatever goes wrong but finds every reason to take credit for anything that goes right, is Donald Trump.”

Christie endorsed Trump for the White House in 2016. Credit: Chris Christie via Storyful

Video transcript

- --started momentarily. If everyone can please find their way to their seats, silence your cell phones. That would be greatly appreciated. Once again, we will be getting started in just a few minutes. So please find your way to your seats and silence your phones. Thank you.


Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Governor Chris Christie.


CHRIS CHRISTIE: Good to see you. How are you? Good to see you, sir. How are you? Good evening. Good to see you. Good to see you. Thanks for coming. How are you? Good to see you. How are you? Good to see you.

- Hello. Good to see you.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Is this your brother? How are you doing, Robert? Good, young man. You're a media star now.

- Yeah.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Guys, thank you. Thank you guys for being here.

- Welcome.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Thank you. All right. See you again.


Thank you. Happy to be back. You got it, baby. Thank you, everybody.


Well, you knew that we have to play Springsteen, right? You knew. Guy from New Jersey comes up to you in New Hampshire. We got to remind you about what you're going to get tonight. You're going to get some straight talk from New Jersey.

I'm glad to be back here. And I have to tell you, it was not a layup that I'd be here. Far from it. If you had asked me a year ago whether I would be up here to talk to all of you about the future of our country and where we would go, I probably would have said to you, life's pretty good in New Jersey, and I think I'll stay down here and let you all fight it out up here like you always do every four years and get a new crop of folks come up here and talk to you.

But I have to tell you, as I've watched the last year evolve, there's been just one question that kept going back and back and back into my mind. And it was about our country and its future, and I wondered what our choice was going to be. We're we going to be small or are we going to be big?

And let me tell you what I mean. I've watched our country over the last decade. It seems to me, get smaller and smaller. It's smaller in every way. Smaller in the way we talk to each other, smaller in the way we look at each other, smaller in the things that we talk to each other about, smaller in the issues that we cared enough to get angry about, the issues that we cared enough to get involved in.

And I thought to myself, why do I continue to get this feeling that America, for the first time in its history, is getting smaller? And what I concluded is because we've had leaders who have led us to being small. Small by their example, small by the way they conduct themselves, small by the things they tell us we should care about, smaller and smaller, and they do it in other ways, too.

They're making a smaller by dividing us into smaller and smaller groups. And they sell to you that we should get into these smaller groups because we'll be more comfortable. See, because the smaller and smaller group you get into, then you're probably not going to hear anything you disagree with.

The smaller group you get into, you just watch the news that you want to hear. The smaller the group you get into, the less chances you'll ever be offended by anything. See, this is not just the right problem. This is a right and a left problem. We just go about it from different ways. I'm not just talking about the leadership of my own party, I'm talking about the leadership of both parties.

Barack Obama made us smaller by dividing us and trying to make sure that his party was divided into smaller pieces so that he could lead the small pieces that he wanted to. And Donald Trump made us smaller by dividing us even further and pitting one group against another, different groups pitted against different groups every day.

And by definition making those groups smaller because even when you're talking to those small groups, you're going to say something that offends them, and the leader, instead of trying to bring people together, says it's OK to leave. It's OK to go. Move to another group that you agree with even more, which by definition, will be even smaller.

And now Joe Biden is doing the very same thing, just on the other side of the political divide. He ran promising us that he was going to bring the country together, that he was going to unite us, that he was going to bring a new sense of unity to the United States.

And instead, what he decided to do was to take his groups and divide them even smaller and actively pit them against Republicans. To paint all Republicans with just one brush even though all of you in this room, who may be Republican like me, knows that there isn't just one brush to paint our party with.

So what's the problem with that? In some respects, maybe you feel a little bit better. You turn on a new show, and you hear things that come back to you that you agree with. You probably smile, maybe you nod, you go to dinner parties where only the people that you agree with are around the table. There's no arguments. Everybody agrees. You go to a college or a university, where you see people who only agree with you. Professors who only agree with you. And you learn only the things that you already know.

That's not the America that I grew up in. And if you look back at our history, when we have had great leaders, at every pivotal moment in our history, there was a choice between small and big. And America became the most different, the most successful, the most fabulous light for the rest of the world in the history because we always picked big.

1776, there were so many people in the Continental Congress who argued against independence, said, let's just make a deal with the King. I'm sure he'll lower those taxes a little bit. Maybe he'll let us elect a few people who can say some things. We don't have to go to war for our independence.

But thank God for all of us who are sitting here right now, that George Washington and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Rush said no. We're going big. We want a country, of our own. We know that true liberty is a gift from God and the only way to accept that gift is to be independent, to be able to govern ourselves, to have the miracle that so few people in this world have ever had, to choose for themselves their own form of government. How they were going to be governed.

Imagine if we had gone small. We'll all have British accents, everybody. We all have British accents today. Some of us watched the coronation of King Charles III. All of us would have been required to if we had gone small.

And then you had 1861 when the country and many people in it literally wanted to make it smaller. They want to divide it in half because we disagreed. We disagreed on some fundamental issues like slavery, like how the federal government interacts with the state governments, and who should really be in charge. And if we had had a small leader sitting in the White House in 1861, we would not have become the greatest continental country the world has ever seen. And who knows?

Who knows how that would have ended? But it would not have ended with a country as vast and great and rich and free as it is now because Abraham Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand. And he knew when he said it that he was going to cause the death of citizens all throughout this country, the greatest loss of life in any American war, the Civil War, when we killed each other.

But Lincoln knew that in the choice between a smaller America and a bigger America that any sacrifice was worth it to make America bigger. He made that choice, and he gave his life for that choice. That's a great leader.

And in 1917, when Europe was at war and dictatorships were taking over the entire continent, and America had followed the admonition of George Washington since its founding to stay out of foreign entanglements, Woodrow Wilson said no. If America allows Europe to go under dictatorship, we will be next, and we don't want to do this. But if we want America to be big and influential and free, we need to do it.

And Franklin Roosevelt said the same thing 24 years later. When Hitler and Mussolini and Hirohito decided that dictatorship was what was going to rule the world, and Roosevelt and the rest of America said no. And sent hundreds and thousands of our men to Europe and to the Pacific because they said America is better than this, and we're going to help the world be better than this.

Again, imagine what would have happened. We know what would have happened if America had pulled away and decided to go small. Europe would have been dominated by Germany, by totalitarianism and Holocaust. And who knows what would have happened next to the United States with a Germany that ran all of Europe. We said no. America will go big.

And 20 years later, John Kennedy stood at a speech and said with absolutely nothing to base it on other than his belief in us that we're going to the moon, and we're going to the moon before the end of the decade. We didn't have a rocket. We didn't know what an astronaut was. I'm confident he didn't. So how could he possibly have been so audacious to do it?

He was that audacious because he was an American leader, who watched all those examples before him and knew his history, wrote a book called Profiles in Courage about courageous leaders in this country. And what did he do? He put us on that path even though he wasn't there to see it to its conclusion. We would have never gotten there if John Kennedy would have thought small, would have not believed in the American people, would not have believed in our ingenuity and our industry, and our faith and our hope.

And then 20 years after that, there were those who said that the United States should just coexist with the Soviet Union, that we shouldn't care that they dominate Eastern Europe, we shouldn't care that they kill their own people, we shouldn't care that they starve them, we shouldn't care that they do that to everyone else that they dominate in Eastern Europe. We should just survive.

And Ronald Reagan said they are an evil empire, and America stands up against evil. We fight evil anywhere in the world to prevent evil from becoming a part of us. And it was Ronald Reagan, who in eight years, went from pronouncing that on the front of the Capitol in his inaugural address to watching from his home in California as the Berlin Wall came down, and all of Eastern Europe was made free again.

All throughout our history, there have been moments when we've had to choose between big and small. And I would tell you the reason I'm here tonight is because this is one of those moments, and you see it everywhere.

We have candidates for president who say we shouldn't care about what's happening in Ukraine. We shouldn't care that Russia wants to take a free and freedom loving country and put it back under its thumb, but that's not America's concern. We have candidates for president who are talking about issues that are so small, that sometimes it's hard to even understand them.

But let me tell you why they're talking about those small issues. For the very same reason that leaders, who are pretenders, have always talked about small issues, to divide you further and to make it easier for them to rule over you. The more divided we are, the more likely we are to be dominated by a single leader.

We fought against that 245 years ago. And as I sat in our home in Mendham, New Jersey living a very comfortable existence, now I want to make clear that after eight years of being a Republican governor in New Jersey, any existence would be comfortable.


So this is not a high standard, but it was a bar that we were clear in every day. Mary Pat and I said to each other, we can't sit by and watch this. We cannot sit by and watch this happen.

There's a big argument in our country right now about whether character matters. And we have leaders who have shown us over and over again that not only are they devoid of character, but they don't care. And they tell you, you shouldn't care. Just look at what results I produce. Well, there's some fiction in that too. And we'll talk about that tonight.

But the Greeks said character is destiny. And if you think about the stuff I just talked about, at every one of those moments, we had men and women of character to make the big versus small decision. Whether we agreed with them politically or not, Washington and Adams and Jefferson and Franklin and Hamilton were men of character, as was Abigail Adams, a woman of character, who told John Adams what to do most of the time, if you read their letters.

And if George Washington had not destroyed all his letters between he and Martha, I suspect, we may have found the same thing about him, which just shows you that's why Washington was the first president and Adams was second that she's a little smarter.

But whether it's him, those folks or Lincoln and his team of rivals that ran the government during the Civil War, or Wilson or FDR or JFK or Ronald Reagan, these were men of character. We can't dismiss the question of character anymore, everybody. If we do, we get what we deserve. And we will have to own it.

So let's talk about candidates for a second. I just will tell you this that if you are in search of the perfect candidate, it is time to leave.


I am not it. And not only am I not the perfect candidate, I'm far from the perfect person. I've lived a life at 60 years old now that have had enormous, enormous highs, honors and privileges that as a child I could have never ever imagined.

Meeting the queen of England, traveling around the world to meet leaders of-- heads of state in the Middle East and in Europe, to have the opportunity to lead my state through the worst natural disaster that it ever had and have people come up to me during Hurricane Sandy, when I would see them, and they would say to me, thank God you haven't forgotten us.

Those moments that you've had become that significant in those people's lives that they believed that you could get them out of the worst moment of their lives is the highest high you could ever have as a public official, and I've had them. But I also have made mistakes. I've made judgments at times that were wrong, and I've trusted people I shouldn't have trusted. And it resulted in me being, at one point in my career, admitting that I was publicly embarrassed and humiliated by the things that had happened on my watch.

And those are days when you wonder whether it was worth it to do this. But I will tell you, there has never been a day where those great moments are the thing that got me out of bed or those horrible moments were something that kept me in. What got me out of bed every day was that in public leadership in this country, you have a chance to do something great every day. You give men like me a chance to do something great every day, and that's what gets me out of bed.

That's what got me out of bed for those years on the good days and the bad days. When I made those mistakes, I admitted them. See, because I think what true leaders do is not try to pretend to you that we're perfect because we're human just like you. Because in our country, in our democracy, we are no better and no worse than any of you. We are you. We are you.

And if your leaders are not willing to admit to you that they're fallible, that they make mistakes, that they hurt like you, that they bleed like you, and that they suffer disappointments and letdowns, beware. Beware of the leader in this country who you have handed leadership to who has never made a mistake, who has never done anything wrong, who when something goes wrong, it's always someone else's fault and who has never lost.


I've lost. You people did that to me in 2016.


All of you. And I have two of my children here tonight who remind me of that all the time. They said, you're going back to New Hampshire? They'd beat you. But beware of the leader who won't admit any of those shortcomings because you know what the problem is with a leader like that? A leader like that thinks America's greatness resides in the mirror he's looking at.

I believe that America's greatness resides out there, among all of you, and that any of us who get the opportunity to serve are merely temporary stewards of that greatness, who just want an opportunity to make it a little bit greater.

And if you can't admit to the people you want to lead that you're not going to be perfect, and if you decide that the people who you asked to come with you to lead will always be the ones who are blamed when anything goes wrong, that they'll be called names, that they'll be dismissed, and that after, they leave your service they're nothing but idiots, beware.

Because that leader not only will not serve you, they will not be able to find anybody who will serve them. And a lonely self-consumed self serving mirror hog is not a leader. And so now we have pretenders all around us who want to tell you, pick me because I'm kind of like what you picked before, but not quite as crazy. But I don't want to say his name because for these other pretenders, he is, for those of you who read the Harry Potter books, like Voldemort. He is he who shall not be named.


Well, let me be clear, in case I have not been already. The person I am talking about who is obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault, and who always find someone else and something else to blame for whatever goes wrong, but finds every reason to take credit for anything that goes right is Donald Trump.

And if we don't have that conversation with you, we don't deserve to ask for your vote, we don't deserve the mantle of leadership, we don't deserve to have you think of us as people worthy of leadership. And with this I read a great quote from a letter that John Adams wrote to Abigail Adams during the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

She asked him in a letter to him, what did he think was going to happen? Were we going to win? And his response to her was, I can't guarantee success in this war. But I can guarantee something better, that we deserve it. So I'll say to you tonight that I can't guarantee you success in what I'm about to do, but I guarantee you that at the end of it, you will have no doubt in your mind who I am and what I stand for and whether I deserve it.

So that's why I came back to Saint Anselm's, and that's why I came back to Manchester, and that's why I came back to New Hampshire to tell all of you that I intend to seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 2024 and I want your support.


Thank you. All right.

All right. So now we'll do what I like to do much more than that. When I was governor of New Jersey, I did over 150 town hall meetings in my first four years as governor, and then I came up here and I did another 100. And so just so you know, this is my favorite stuff to find out what you're thinking, what's on your mind and to be able to try to answer you honestly and directly and let you critique it as you walk out tonight.

So I want everybody to feel free to ask whatever question they want to ask, and I'll try to give you the best answer I possibly can. But remember something, please never forget this, I am from New Jersey.


So I am always interested in mild, polite, but intense conflict. So I'm happy to go back and forth with anybody tonight but remember, with guys from New Jersey, what you need to know-- and women, is that if you give it, you're getting it back. And that's the way we engage.

So before I take your first question, I do want to do one other thing. I talked throughout the beginning of this about we, and we have been the same way for the last 37 years. And despite all odds against it, she's still here. My wife Mary Pat. Stand up.


Now for all of you who have more than one child, we have four. Once they get to the ages of 30, 27, 22, and 20, if you can get any of them to come to anything you're doing, you are incredibly lucky. So I am lucky times two tonight, I have our oldest son, Andrew, and our oldest daughter, Sarah, here with us tonight as well.


And I'll tell you beside being asked about Mary Pat, the second person I get asked about all the time when I come back up here because apparently he made such an impression when he came up here eight years ago at the age of 82 to go door-to-door, big upset everybody, he's still here.


And he will still be going door-to-door, I suspect, here in New Hampshire. So get ready for this guy, my amazing 90-year-old father to come knock on your door, and you can't say no once he gets to 90. So dad, Bill Christie, thanks for being here tonight.


All right who's got the first question? Right there.

- Are you ready?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I am ready and they're going to bring you a microphone. The question is, are you ready?

- I am ready.


- I'm from Pittsburgh. I can take it.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Excellent, that's good. That's good competition.

- All right. But I live in New Hampshire. My name is Laura Landerman-Garber, and I'm going to say this up front, I'm a clinical psychologist of 40 years, all right? So given that, I want to read this because I want to get it right. It seems to me that our amazing nation has actually been traumatized by all the divisive screaming, yelling that has been happening in politics and in elections.

I would say, as a psychologist, that we've been traumatized as a nation. I want to know, how are you going to take that to the White House? You have a forceful, I'll call it strong approach to things. Look at him, he raises his eyebrows. I can do that, too. So can you address that now? What are we going to do? We're in trouble.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yeah, we are. And I think it's a great question, and I think you're right that trauma has been thrust on our country in a number of different ways. And see, I don't think that the American people are traumatized by strength. They're traumatized by chaos.

The American people aren't traumatized by being direct. The American people are traumatized by lying. I don't think the American people are traumatized by somebody who is going to be forceful. I think they're traumatized by someone who only cares to be forceful for themselves.

See, when I used to fight about things in New Jersey and my Democratic opponents used to say all the time-- they just call me bully all the time. They thought-- they polled that, and they said, look, if we can get him to be seen as a bully his numbers will go down. But what we found was that people said yeah. He's a bully. He's a bully for us.

See, I think it depends on where you direct that strength. If you direct that strength to aggrandize yourself, if you direct that chaos to aggrandize yourself, if you direct the anger to benefit yourself, well, then you're traumatizing a nation.

If you harness our energy, our anger, our concerns, our disappointments, our hopes, our aspirations, and you put the force of a personality behind it for the betterment of the whole country, that's leadership. And so I don't think we need some weak person in the White House, who will be mealy mouthed and not speak and not lead. I think we got that already, OK?

We have that now. And look, I've known Joe Biden for 40 years. I went to the University of Delaware. I was the president of the student body there when he was the United States Senator. He's a nice guy. I've known him for 40 years. He's a nice man. He is out of his depth because he's not the guy he used to be.

And I'm going to be honest with all of us. We know this. I know it for me, and there's lots of people in this audience that know it. Father Time always wins. He always wins. And he's not what he used to be. So we don't need someone timid, quiet, who's not speaking to us regularly in the White House.

But by the same token, we don't need someone whose entire life is defined by never admitting you're wrong, never admitting you made a mistake, and when the mistakes happen, by definition, you have to traumatize somebody else. Because you can't take the blame on yourself. That's why I talk to you about what I did near the end of my talk.

I've made mistakes. I've made bad judgments. I'm human. But none of my mistakes, none of my judgments were ever meant to aggrandize me. They were a decision that I made about a public policy that was wrong or a judgment I made about a person that turned out to be wrong. And what I always would say is, even if I'm not directly responsible, I'm accountable because I'm the leader.

And what we need is someone who's going to be strong and accountable, and someone who's going to look at this country and say you're not perfect, I'm not perfect, but we are better than any place else in the world. And we better get back to aspiring to that rather than worrying about dividing each other into groups that we agree with all the time. So I agree with you that trauma's happened, but I don't think it's strength. That's faux strength.

That is faux strength that's built out of an absolute lack of confidence, and it's damaging to everyone starting with the person who's doing it who can't see it or don't care to, and to everybody else who that person is supposed to be leading. And that's why we're in the traumatic situation we're in now because we've gone from chaos and constant yelling, screaming, blaming to now quiet. And the divisions now are happening more quietly, but they're still happening.

So that's the way I would consider leading now, which is to show your strength, but to show your humanity. And to let people know that I know I'm not always going to be right. I know I'm not. But what you're going to know about me is that every day, I'm not only trying to be right, I'm trying to be right for you. Thank you.


They're going to bring you a microphone.

- Thank you, Governor. My name is Quinn Mitchell. I'm 15 years old, and last week, I went to a DeSantis event and while going in, I saw a huge group of Trump supporters flag waving and it really highlighted what a division there was in the party. Like for example, you would never see Klobuchar supporters doing that to Warren supporters in 2020.

So my question for you is, how will you win over Trump voters who are so attached to one charismatic man considering you don't seem to be appealing to the larger Republican voters? Thank you.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, I'm not nearly as pessimistic as you are.


And after saying that, I'm glad you're 15 and you can't vote.



But despite that, in three years, you will be voting, and I intend to seek your vote for my re-election as president in 2028, so we'll starts right now.

Look, there is no such thing as Trump voters. He doesn't own them. He didn't take title to them. They're not one of his buildings. They're not one of his failed casinos in New Jersey, OK? They're not that wreck he's got in Las Vegas. He hasn't shown them. They voted for him. By the way, I voted for him twice. Am I a Trump voter then? Hell, no, man.

Elections in the United States of America are not about anything other than a choice. I tried to explain this with how a Mary Pat and I had the opportunity to go over to Great Britain and to visit with Prime Minister Cameron at 10 Downing Street. And he was getting ready to start his re-election campaign.

Now in Great Britain, they do this in an incredibly civilized way. Their entire election is 48 days. You're not allowed legally to campaign before 48 days before the election, you can only campaign in those 48 days in this election. He looked at me, and he came in-- Mary Pat, remember, he came in having come off the treadmill. And he was saying I'm going to like dressed like this. I'm meeting the prime minister.

And he comes in literally in gym shorts and a sweaty T-shirt, and he's like, sorry, but the campaign is going to start soon I have to be working out. Like no problem, Mr. Prime Minister. He said to me, explain your country to me, you guys are already doing this. It was 2015, in the early part of 2015. He said, how do you do this? I hate doing it for 48 days. How are you going to do it for a year and a half?

And I said remember this about the American political system, everybody. In America, we don't get to vote for who we want to vote for, we get to vote for who's left. We get to vote for who's left. So Trump voters, our Trump voters in 2016, when their choice was among 17 of us, and then when it was Trump or Hillary Clinton.

A Trump voter in 2020 in the Republican Party, he had no competition. So who else were they supposed to vote for? They either vote for him or they stay home. And then in the fall, you were a Trump voter or a Biden voter, and Joe Biden won the election. So I don't understand this concept of Trump voters. Yeah, they had people outside waving flags on me, too, tonight.

Let me tell you something, for a guy from New Jersey, it's like being home, baby.


It's like being home. Like if I would walk up to a town hall in New Jersey, and there were no protesters, I was like get me the hell out of here. I am not going to be able to stay awake during this thing. Look this is a contact sport, and the way I'm going to appeal to any voter in New Hampshire, it's to do what I just did and make the case I can make.

And if someone in here was a Trump voter four years ago, maybe this time they say, let me give this guy a shot or let me give one of the other candidates a try. I don't think he owns them. He thinks he owns them. He thinks he owns them, OK? But let me guarantee you something, he thought he owned the general electorate after 2016. And what did they show him in 2020? Not so fast. Not so fast.

So I don't have a specific strategy. I'm going to be myself. I got advice from one of President Trump's former chiefs of staff. So I'm thinking about doing this, what do you think? And he said to me, for you? Be yourself. And that's exactly what I'm going to be. And like Adam said to Abigail, I can't guarantee success in the war, but I can guarantee something better, that we'll deserve it.

I'm going to give you a campaign that by the end of this year, you're going to say, whether you would decide to vote for me or not if you could, and I still have hope for you, you're going to say he made me think. He made me think. And that's the first step towards getting somebody's respect. And I want you to think about the last time Donald Trump made you think. He sure has. Yes, sir, right there. Yeah.

- Governor-- excuse me. Governor Christie.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: It was him. I'll get to you next.

- Governor Christie, Kurt Wright from Burlington, Vermont. So we've got our own problems there.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yeah, Kurt, you do.

- But I want to let you know because I'm from Burlington, it wasn't my fault.


- But let's talk some policy. Governor Christie, we just had the debt ceiling deal in Washington and a lot of people on the farther right didn't like the deal, and a lot of people on the farther left didn't seem to like the deal, and Governor DeSantis also seems to have trashed the deal.

I haven't heard so much from Donald Trump yet, I don't think, about it, but I'd like to hear what your thoughts were on the debt ceiling deal. Do you think Kevin McCarthy got enough? What do you think of that deal?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, thank God they did it. Look, governing is about choosing and governing is about compromising. When did compromise become such a dirty word? Look, if we don't want compromise, set up a dictatorship, put the dictator in charge, he or she'll make all the decisions, and then we won't have to ever worry about compromising.

We may get trampled, but we won't have to worry about compromising. Thank God. I mean, look, are there things that I would have done differently? Sure. Sure. There's some things I might have done differently. But I'm not going to trash Kevin McCarthy over this. He had a responsibility.

Let's remember what the debt ceiling is, everybody. It's not future spending. It's money we already spent. Are we going to pay the bills we already ran up? And I'll tell you a great Donald Trump aside on this, when I became governor of New Jersey, we had an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget. And we had pension and benefit debt of over $300 billion. And my friend Donald Trump called me, and he said, here's what you do. Don't pay it.


He said, Chris, go bankrupt. I said, Donald, the law doesn't allow states to go bankrupt. He said, screw it. Fight it out in the courts. Don't pay it. You're never going to be able to fix all this. So just let the debt go. That's not leadership. That's not leadership. And everybody who says they hate the debt deal, they can tell me what particular part they don't like, but they need to tell me how they would have gotten it done.

Because let me tell you what would happen to everybody in this room, me included, if they didn't do it. The economy would have cratered. We already have a bank crisis going on. You think we have one now? Wait till you see what would happen if we defaulted on the debt. What do you see what would happen to our ability to trade around the world? What ever happened to your 401(k)s and your IRAs and your college funds for your kids? It would have been a disaster.

So governing is choosing. And see, I think Governor DeSantis doesn't like it because Governor DeSantis never had to compromise. When he was in the House of Representatives, he was in the Freedom Caucus, and he just said either hell yes or hell no. And as governor of Florida, he had a Republican legislature who would do whatever he wanted. So he never had to compromise.

I had a Democratic legislature for eight years, every hour of eight years, every minute of eight years, and I had to make a fundamental decision, is, on a particular issue, 60% enough? Is 70% enough? Can I live with 40% this time in order to get something done and move the ball down the field?

And by the way, that's how we capped property taxes at 2% in New Jersey that had averaged 7% increase for the 10 years before I was governor. That's how we saved $150 billion on our pension and health benefit system because I compromised with the Democrats. Would I have like to fixed the whole $300 billion problem? I would have. But guess what? I retired half of the problem. Is that a failure? Under that definition, it is.

So look, I'm not going to be one of those guys, if I become president of United States, who is going to go in and say, my way or the highway, it's got to be what I want every day, and if it's not, I'm going back to the Oval Office holding my breath and ignoring you. Now, you all know me. Doesn't mean I'm not going to fight. I'm going to fight every day until the minute I think we've reached the time where compromise is going to happen.

But that's how you negotiate. Like if you went in to your boss and you said, I'd like a 10% raise. And your boss said, oh, I don't really think we can do that, I can only do 2%. And you said, OK, goodbye. And you walked out and you didn't fight. Well, you're going to get 2%.

But if you said, well, I don't know about-- two is just much too low. Would you maybe get to seven? And then the boss comes back and says, well, I might be able to get the four? You know what I'm seeing? Here comes six, baby. I'm getting six. And you have tripled what the boss originally offered you.

Under the definition of some people on the left wing of the Republican-- the Democratic party and some of the people in our party, that's a loss. Not to me. So I got to criticize Kevin McCarthy I wasn't in the negotiations. I can't tell whether he could have squeezed a little more out or whether he had reached the end. But what I do know is he knew that if he failed, that the American economy would fail.

- Did Trump say at the CNN town hall that we should default [INAUDIBLE]?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes, he did. He said we should default. And that's why I told the story! It's not news, baby. He told me to default in 2010. And when I said to my kid, dude, it's against the law. He said, fight it at the courts. I said, we'd lose. And he'd go, oh, for God's sake, Chris. Don't be stupid. Just default.

Now, look, that's not leadership, everybody. It's just not. And when he was just a developer at Trump Tower in New York City calling and giving me advice, who cares. He's one of thousands of people who would give me advice, and it's my job to decide. But when you put him in the chair to decide, and you know that's what he thinks, get ready. Get ready for bad things to happen. And that's what happened.


He's going to bring the mic.

- Chris, Ted Teichert from Andover, Massachusetts. I only came here to get a job in your cabinet when you get elected. Not if, but when you do.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, that started early.

- I want to get a picture with Mary Pat, and I got that done already, too.


- But actually, what have you learned since the last time you ran for president?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: What have I learned since the last time I ran for president.

- Because we want to help you.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Look, there's a lot. The first thing I learned is motion is in progress. So people tell you to do all these different things, and sometimes, it's just because they like to see you do all those different things. But they're not making you any more electable, they're not moving the ball down the court. I think I'm much more experienced about how to do this now, and what really matters in being able to get the job done.

Every endorsement doesn't matter. Last time, I was obsessed with all the endorsements. And I got more local endorsements than any candidate in the race, and I came in sixth. So I don't know. My common sense tells me, maybe not that important.


Maybe I spend too much time on that. Maybe the fifth meeting with a member of the New Hampshire house to get his or her endorsement may have been a little bit of a waste of time.

Second thing I learned is that even though I did 100 town halls up here, and I did a lot of listening, you have to do even more. You have to do even more. And that's why I didn't do some big podium speech tonight to announce. To me, if I want to win, this is the best way to do it. Find out what you care about.

Third, I think if you look at our politics now, back in 2015 and '16, I play the conventional game. I thought you just do politics the way you've always done it, just talk about yourself, don't really worry about anybody else, keep your eye on the ball and keep going. That's not the politics today. This time you have to differentiate yourself from the person in the lead.

And I said this at the town hall. I came up here a couple of months ago, right here. It was a mistake in 2016 not to confront Donald Trump early because I knew that so much of what he said was complete baloney. Like I knew it. I'm going to build the greatest, most wonderful wall across the entire Mexico border, and Mexico is going to pay for it.

Well, like I knew as someone, who had governed, that that was complete bull. But I was like, hey, people aren't going to believe that.


They're not going to believe that. Mistake. But guess what? You've got no excuse now. He was there for four years, two of them with the Republican Congress, he got a quarter of the wall built, and Mexico has given us our first peso. We paid for all of it, and only for a quarter of it.

And when you watch illegal immigration pouring over our Southern border, don't wonder whose fault it is. It's his. It's his fault because he never changed one immigration law in the two years that he had Republican control of Congress. Not one immigration law did he change. He didn't build the wall like he told us to, and Mexico is laughing at us at the idea that they were going to pay for a wall on their border.

And if you listen to him, he'll tell you, I totally succeeded, and now Biden-- Biden is the reason that this is not happening. Well, Biden's made it worse. But if the wall was there like he promised us, Biden wouldn't be able to be doing this. He wouldn't be in office if it wasn't for Trump. Joe Biden never beat anybody outside the state of Delaware in 45 years, except for one guy, Donald J. Trump.

Joe Biden ran for president three times and never won. Never won anything outside the state of Delaware. Not once, until he ran up against the guy who the American people knew in their heart was full of it. And they'd had enough. They had watched the chaos, they had watched the disorder, they had watched the disrespect, they had watched the narcissism, and the lying for four years. And they went, you know what? The people in the middle said, enough. We took a chance on him four years ago, we're not taking a chance again.

And so I made a fundamental judgment error. I thought that something that was so apparent to me would be apparent to everybody. Let me guarantee you something. I ain't making that mistake this time.

- Is Trump the guy in the way?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, of course, he is. I love this. I've seen some of the press coverage of me getting ready to run. And there's this thing like, Christie doesn't really care about winning. All he cares about doing is destroying Trump. Now let me ask you something, how are those two things mutually exclusive?


I mean, seriously? Aren't they inextricably connected? The guy's ahead in the polls who am I supposed to be worried about? Nikki Haley? I mean, seriously, if I came out here tonight and spend 15 minutes railing on Nikki Haley, and I've known Nikki for 13 years now, we're friends.

So that's why I'm bringing her up because I know that she will take this in the spirit it's given. If I came out here and railed for 15 to 20 minutes about Nikki Haley, you all would leave going, is he nuts? Hasn't he like read the papers? Does he know Trump's leading? The reason I'm going after Trump is two-fold.

One, he deserves it. And two, it's the way to win. So these two are not divided, and this is what I understand about the coverage, right? Well, I hope he's not just going out there to kill. No, I am going out there. Let me be very clear. I am going out there to take out Donald Trump, but here's why, I want to win. And I don't want him to win. And guess what? If you put DeSantis and Haley and Pence and Tim Scott-- that's it, I'll stop there-- on truth serum, they'd tell you the same thing.

Here's the difference. Here's the difference. You have to put me on truth serum to tell you. So that's why there are not multiple lanes to the Republican nomination. That is a political science professor's dream. There is one lane to the Republican nomination, and he's in front of it. And if you want to win, you better go right through him. Because let me guarantee you something from knowing him for 22 years, everybody, he going to go through me.

He's going to try to go through Ron and Nikki and Tim and anybody else who stands in his way. And you've watched this show. I mean, to me, this show looks like it's on reruns now. This is like watching Seinfeld--


--right? We've all seen it, and the jokes aren't quite as funny as they were the first time we heard them, right?

So the Mexican wall, he's going to-- I guarantee you, if you haven't been at one of his events yet and you go, you will walk out of there thinking, Jesus, the whole wall was built. How did I miss that? How did I miss it? The whole wall was built. And you know what? Shit, Mexico paid for it. Nobody told me. I read the papers every day. I missed it. I guarantee you'll come out thinking that, right?

Eight years ago it was amusing. Eight years ago you were entertained. I forgive you.


But it ain't funny anymore. It's not amusing anymore, it's not entertaining anymore. It is the last throes of a bitter, angry man who wants power back for himself. Not for you. If you think for one minute, when he says, I am your retribution, if you think he wants to be your retribution? Forget it. He's going to be retribution for one person and one person only. Himself and all the things he's angry about, and all the ways he thinks he got snookered.

Well, if that's the kind of president you want, let me tell you, no one can compete with him. He's the runaway winner. But if you want somebody who's actually going to fight for you, I would suggest he is not the right choice. So I learned a few things.

- Hi, Governor Christie.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Hello there.

- My name is Anja, and I apologize I am of voting age. So--


--I just wanted to ask, you spent a lot of time tonight talking about freedom as an American value, and of these amazing past people in our history that have fought for freedom and fought for our rights. I'm wondering if you could talk about your opinion on the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, and the future of reproductive justice and abortion access for women in America. And if you support all of our freedoms or maybe just freedoms for a choice few.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I think that Dobbs decision was the right decision because I believe it was Roe v Wade was constitutionally flawed. It said that there was a right to an abortion in the Constitution. And, look, I'm a lawyer, I plead guilty, I'm a recovering lawyer, but nonetheless a lawyer. Look, it's not there.

And so I think what Dobbs did was exactly what it should have done, which is say, it's not in the Constitution and as a result, we send this back to the states for them to decide. And what I favor is what I've argued for my entire professional life, both as a lawyer and politically, that every state decide what they want to do.

I think each state should have the right to make that decision. I'm pro-life. I ran twice as a pro-life candidate for governor of New Jersey, which is now a state that allows abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy. So not a place that was hospitable to my point of view, but I think the reason people voted for me was they knew that that's what I felt in my heart. I believe that in my heart.

Now I also believe, even greater than the things I believe in my heart as someone who governs, is I believe in our Constitution, and I believe in the rule of law. And it means that the people of New Hampshire get to decide. On issues that are not protected by the Constitution, they get to decide how they want to deal with this really difficult, horrible issue. Because it is. It's tragedy no matter what happens.


CHRIS CHRISTIE: Look, because I think that when there is an unwanted pregnancy, that is something that is tragic for the person and people that are going through it. I think when you have someone and get them pregnant or they become pregnant, that should be a moment of joy. You're bringing life into the world. But when it's an unwanted, unplanned pregnancy for some people, it doesn't become that. That's what I mean, on that side.

And on the other side, I think any taking of a life like that of an innocent life is wrong, and it's a tragedy. And so here we are in this horrible situation of having to make choice, but you know what? No one ever said this was going to be easy. Governing ourselves is not easy.

There are going to be lots of really difficult questions. This is probably one of the most fraught moral questions that this country has dealt with, and the countries all over the world deal with. And that's why I think it's best decided by the people in each state individually.

So in Oklahoma they have decided to ban all abortions. In New Jersey, they're allowing abortion up to nine months. I think people would argue that either one of those positions is wrong. So if you don't believe in that position, go out and fight for it in your state, fight for what you think is reasonable, fight for what you think is fair, and that's what I think should be done. And I don't think the federal government should be big footing around in this thing.

I think that each state should make that decision because, guess what? That's the way the founders set it up. They said very clearly, if it's not enumerated as a right in this document, it reverts to the states. And it's not like it reverts to the states, and there's some like crazy eyed dictator who's going to decide.

Some states have put it on the ballot for a vote. That's perfectly acceptable to me. Some states have let their legislature and Governor make the decision. But it gets down closer to the people, to your local culture, mores, values. And the majority of the people will rule on an issue like that at the state level.

Now I disagree with what my state's doing. I fundamentally think that abortion in the ninth month is just wrong. But I got two choices. Fight to try to change it or move. And that's what our democracy is all about. And so that's the way I look at it. That's the way I feel about it. And I think that as conservatives, we've been saying for 50 years, Roe is wrong, the state should decide.

Well, we won. Why can't anybody in the Conservative movement or not everybody conservative movement declare victory? Our argument won out ultimately. The states are going to decide. And so now there's other people who want to impose their will from the federal government. I think that unless you can get 60 United States senators and a majority of the House of Representatives and the president of the United States to agree on it, which I think is unlikely, we should allow the states to make their decisions.

Let them decide what to do. And if it is such a fundamental issue to anybody, the great thing about America is we have the right to pick up and move if we want. And we have the right to go fight the fight here or someplace else. And that's the way I look at it. It's the way I've always believed it. And I think a pro-choice person could feel exactly the same way. That's the beauty of, I think, of this argument and it's the genius of our Constitution.

We can build consensus in each state, state by state, around what the right thing to do is for the people in that state. And I think that's what we should be encouraging people to do rather than just flipping it around and then it will just go back and forth like this depending on whether conservatives or liberals are in charge of the federal government.

I think the Supreme Court is trying to stop that and put it back with the states. That's the way I would deal with it. Sure. Yes, sir, on the aisle there. He's going to come with a microphone for you.

- Thank you, Governor. Welcome back to Saint Anselm. I'm an alum. My name is Steve Monier. I'm glad you mentioned the Ukraine, Governor. I'd like to hear you talk a little bit about foreign policy. Putin, China, it's not an emerging threat. It is a threat.


- So can you speak to our foreign policy issues a bit?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Sure. Look, I think there have been grave foreign policy mistakes that have been made by the last five presidents that we're now living with that all built on each other. George W. Bush made the fundamental mistake of Iraq.

Now we can all talk about why he did it. He got bad intelligence, maybe a flawed decision making process, but whatever it was, Iraq was a flawed decision. And I think even the president himself would even admit that today given what he now knows that there were no weapons of mass destruction, et cetera, which was the basis to go into the war.

And what it did was steal some credibility from us around the world because we said that this was there. Colin Powell went in front of the UN and said it was there, and we turned out to be wrong. So first problem on American foreign policy is we must be honest, and we must be credible because the Chinese are not and the Russians are not.

And what's always distinguished us in foreign policy around the world is we've told people the truth and we built friendships based upon that truth. That we believe in freedom and democracy and will support those who do the same. And we will when we make a promise to a friend, we'll keep that promise.

That's how we get to the next mistake, which was, in my view, Barack Obama allowing the continued encroachment on Ukrainian territory by the Russians, and doing nothing. Nothing but sending them blankets and human rights aid. No weapons to defend themselves.

Well, the Russians took that as a signal. We're not going to stand up for them. Sometimes, spending some money on the front end saves you a lot of money on the back end. And I think if President Obama had sent the kind of defensive weaponry that we should have, in my opinion, to the Ukrainians to send a signal to the Russians, don't do this because these people are willing to fight for their country, and we're giving them the arms to be able to effectively fight for their country. We would not be in the situation, I don't believe, that we're in today.

You go forward to President Trump, and President Trump bartered Ukrainian aid to get dirt on Joe Biden. I don't beyond reprehensible what you would really call that, but here are a freedom loving people who just want the weapons that they were at that time promised by President Trump.

And now this sends another signal to Putin. Well, if he's willing to barter for that, I can make a trade with him on something. That'll help me get to Ukraine. And Trump's coddling of Putin. He's idol-- the way he idolizes Putin and talks about him as a great leader. This guy is a KGB communist thug. It's what he is. And he steals from his people. He's one of the richest men in the world. How'd that come about by being president of Russia? Well, I mean, I know they pay OK, but not that good.

And that leads to the next problem, which is Joe Biden comes in, who appears weak and said, right in the beginning is presidency, well, a small incursion probably wouldn't be a problem. Well, here's the problem, everybody. Everybody's definition of small is different.

Vladimir Putin's definition of small was I'll take it all. And I won't go to Poland, if you're lucky. And now Biden has tried to come back by supplying them with the type of arms they need. And I will give him credit for having united most of Europe to be able to supply weapons as well, and he's given the Ukrainians a fighting chance.

But make no mistake, this is the beginning of a hot proxy war between the United States and China. China is supporting Russia. China is buying Russian oil to be able to support their war effort and prop up their economy. China went to Russia and said, there is no limit to the friendship between China and Russia.

And I've heard one of the candidates say, well, this is just a territorial dispute. Let me tell you what a territorial dispute is, everybody. You know like when you get your property surveyed, and the surveyor comes back and says bad news, your neighbor's fence is 4 inches on your property. That's a territorial dispute.


When you roll tanks and artillery into a free country to, by force, murder them and take their land that ain't a territorial dispute. That's war. That is an act of dictatorial aggression, and if we don't stand up, why will China not go to Taiwan? And if you say, OK, why do I really give a damn about Taiwan?

Put aside humanity, freedom, liberty, if you don't care about any of this stuff, put that aside. Let's be practical. The majority of semi-conductors in the world are made in Taiwan. Who do you want controlling that? The Chinese? That worked out really well during COVID, didn't it?

When the Chinese were controlling the majority of personal protective gear, and we had to be on a knee begging the Chinese to give us things to protect ourselves during COVID, it is naive to say this is anything but a proxy war.

And guess what? The Ukrainians aren't asking us to come over and fight the war for them. They're just saying give us the ability to fight it, we want to fight for our own country. And I heard Vivek on TV the other day, on Sunday-- Ramaswamy, say, this isn't in America's national interest. Why would we care about Ukraine? Why does it matter?

He, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, all saying the same things. they are the modern day Neville Chamberlains. Why should we worry about Hitler? He'll stop at some point. And if you don't think Putin is as bad as Hitler, you're wrong. Because Putin kills his own people in his own country based on their religious views, based on their political views, based on anything that disagrees with him. We may not call it a Holocaust, but it's gone on in Russia for a very long time.

And so what are we going to stand up for and believe in? The second part of it on a foreign policy basis is this. America's greatness, in part, comes from our friendships. We have more friends around the world than any country has now or has ever had. And the basis of those friendships are we say we're going to help you when you're in a jam. We want you to trade with us. We want you to work with us on your form of government, on the way you act with other governments around the world, and we've never had to bribe outright anybody to be our friend.

The Chinese, on the other hand, have to bribe anybody to be their friends. The Russians had to bribe anybody. Because when you look at their government, you know what you'll say? I'll take the money but not the government. Thank you. I don't want Xi Jinping telling me what to do. Well, if that's the case, we are giving it away.

Now I love the phrase America first. Is there anybody in this room who is against America first? Anybody? Neither am I. I'm not like, no. I'm, me? I'm for Luxembourg. I like Luxembourg to be first, Belgium second, we'd be a comfortable bronze medal. Let's be third.

It's a ridiculous statement. The question is, not if you want America to be first or not, it's how. How do we become first? And you have people in my party, our party, who are saying fill the moat, pull up the drawbridge, and let's not worry about the rest of the world, everybody. We got plenty of problems here. And we got to fix these problems that we've got here, and we can't afford to engage with the world.

Well, guess what? When we stop engaging with the world, we're no longer going to be the biggest economy in the world. We're not. They're going to trade with China, and then China is going to put the screws to us and say, hey, you want to continue to trade with us to another country? You can't trade with America anymore. Or you have to give all the best technology to us, not to the Americans.

Foreign policy is complicated, very complicated, but in another sense, it's very simple. The more friends, you have, in a finite world, the better off you're going to be. And sometimes that friendship costs. It costs having to provide arms, it costs having to provide economic aid, it costs it having to provide comfort to people who are in trouble. But America became the greatest country in the world, the greatest power in the world, because we were willing to engage.

And we understood that the sacrifices we made in the process of that would end up with us, as I said in the beginning, being bigger, not smaller. Being greater, not lesser, and so if you want to know what my foreign policy would look like, I'm not looking to send troops all over the world to fight. It would be a last resort for me.

But I want to engage with every country who's willing to engage with us. I want to sit with every leader of goodwill, and I'll even sit with the ones a bad will. The conversation will just be a little different. And we need to be doing that. An idea that we can allow this country to fill the moat and pull up the drawbridge, America first.

We're all for America first. Let's stop it. This is-- again, it's a TV show. America first. Who's for it? Yeah. Great, good. But have these policies led to us being first? I don't think so. You think we're better now around the world than we were eight years ago? I don't. I don't. And so that's the way I would engage.

And yes, Ukraine and supporting the Ukrainian people, are they perfect? As I said in the beginning, none of us are. Are they making every decision like we want to make it? Do they run their government exactly the way we want? No. But the same way American elections are choices, so are these. Do we want them or the Russians? I'll take the Ukrainians. I'll take the Ukrainians.

And I think it's not that these choices are without cost. But to me, avoiding those choices have a much, much greater cost, both in the near term and in the long term. That's the way I'd deal with it.


He's going to come get you a microphone so everybody else can hear you.

- Hello, I'm Tom Pauken II. I'm originally from Dallas, Texas, but I'm also a geopolitical consultant in Asia. So I have yet another foreign policy question as well. Some of my concerns, and I do like your idea of America as a big country, but I have to deal with a lot of, let's just say complex, diplomatic issues. And what I often hear from, say, other countries their criticisms of America is that they see themselves as this big power, and that all others should listen to what the US does.

And so my concern is by you emphasizing this campaign of bigness, how are we going to address the issues between other countries, including rival countries, and are you going to be, oh, we're big, you're small. Or let's say, for example, when you're talking to China, I know a lot of us here are very critical of China, but in one sense, we still have to find ways to work together with China. And I just would like to know your opinion on US-China relations in these regards.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Sure. You put a lot in there, so let me try to unpack it. First off, I am insulted by the idea that you think I would like anything over big, right? So we're not going to do that. But I will tell you this, you can become bigger and not be dictatorial. The greatness of America was after World War II after we had given and given and given more than any country had ever given without asking for anything in return.

And what happened as a result? We engendered trust and friendship all around the world that then inured to our benefit. It's kind of like when I say some of this stuff, as you said, it's a very complex negotiations that have to go on, but some of it is simple, too.

I'm sure that all of us who had great mothers in this room, our mothers taught us, like be good to others. Be kind to others. And it will ultimately come back to benefit you. They couldn't exactly explain how. It wasn't a direct financial transaction, but the goodness and the kindness that you give, I really believe, comes back to you multifold.

Secondly, look, I don't think we should be dictating to other countries around the world. We should be trying to provide an example that they want to emulate. Not dictating to them what their government should be. When we try to dictate what government should be, usually that ends up in a disaster for us.

But when we provide a shining example and people look at this country go, wow, I'd like to be like that. I'd like to have those things, those freedoms, those economic benefits, those educational benefits. People want to emulate you then.

So I think part of it is just the art of persuasion rather than being a dictator. On US-China relations, look, we tried it a bunch of different ways with China, right? And it's starting back with Nixon and him opening the door to China, and it was a brilliant strategic move to divide China and Russia. And it's taken us 50 years now to screw that up, and we put China and Russia back together, right?

So 50 years later, Nixon's looking down going, all right, I wasn't perfect, but I got that right. And we've messed it up. I'm not saying that we should isolate China. It's impossible. They're the second largest economy in the world. They have billions of people. It's not like they're going to go, OK, it's not there, it's not there, it's not there. It's there.

But we have given in to their demands of saying, we're a developing country. We need more advantages. Guess what? The development is over. You're now nearly our equal, if not our equal, in many ways. So you know what? Now we compete with each other on an equal basis. No more advantages that we've given to China over time. Go ahead.

- [INAUDIBLE] like that.


- There is blocking now. It's not just a case of China not being able to-- forcing other countries to decide if that was the US. Only 12 countries say, you can go to China if you're working this out. That's my concern.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, but hold on a second.

- On technology.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Exactly where I was going. China allow Facebook in China? No, no, no, no, they don't. They allow Twitter in China? Do they allow TikTok in our version of it in China? They do not allow our technology in, but they insist that their technology be accepted by us. And so my point is I'm willing to have a fair relationship with China, but it's got to be a fair relationship.

And if they want to start doing that stuff of blocking stuff, stealing our technology, which they do on a regular basis, co-opt it and thumb their nose at the World Trade Organization and anybody else who tries to enforce things, well, then you do have to go then and block some things that they want because they're not following the rules that they said they were going to follow.

When we allowed them to join the World Trade Organization, they agreed to a whole bunch of Fair Training rules most of which they don't follow. So after a while, you have to let them know, in my opinion, enough's enough. Doesn't mean enough's enough, therefore, we're putting the wall up, and we're not going to talk to you anymore. That would be destructive to both of us, both economically and militarily. But they've had a good run. And to some extent, at our expense. Some we've benefited from, some we've had to pay for.

We're in a new era now. And when they go around and start playing the games that they're playing in foreign policy, building artificial islands in the South China Sea and claiming jurisdiction over them, messing around with our ships in both private sector ships and trading lanes and military ships like they did just last week.

When they come to Brazil and stand next to the new president of Brazil and encourage him to denounce the United States in our hemisphere, OK, that's fine. You can play that game. But remember that we will play it back. We will play it back.

And so my concern about this is that we have allowed, in some extent in the beginning of the relationship for good reasons to allow them to develop, we've allowed them to have advantages. It needs to stop, in my opinion now, and we need to make this a level playing field.

And then respect for our intellectual property and respect for theirs, respect for our manufacturing and respect for theirs, respect for their ability to trade and respect for ours, and we don't have that now. And that's my concern about it because in the end, you're much less likely to go to war with someone who respects you.

And we need to rebuild that respect with China in both directions. And then we'll be much less likely to go to war in my view, if we do that. Yes, sir, right in the front.

- My name is Earl Rinker, a former politician in New Hampshire. There's going to be somewhere between a half a dozen and a dozen Republican candidates for president. Seven years ago, Donald Trump only needed 30% of the vote or whatever it was, in order to walk away with enough primaries to be our candidate. What's going to change this year?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, first off, there's going to be nine, it looks like now, with Governor Sununu's announcement that he's not going to run. And really there's seven right now, including me. And I think we got Mike Pence tomorrow, makes eight. And it looks like Doug Burgum, the governor of North Dakota, is getting in.

Look, that guy just shrugged his shoulders.


I had somebody say to me recently, Doug Burgum is running for president? The governor of North Dakota? They don't know that Doug Burgum is South Dakota. But everybody's got a right to run, and Doug's a nice guy, so he'll show up here soon. But let's start off with the fact that that's half of the number of candidates who were on the ballot in New Hampshire seven years ago. So we've made some progress on the thing you're concerned about.

Secondly, you don't know if all of us are going to still be here come February when you vote. Remember, Scott Walker was the front runner, and he left in September, right? So things change in this business, and you all have a way of making your voices heard even before you vote. So that's another part of it.

But the last part of it is, I think, we always make a mistake politically when we run the next election through the prism of the last one. Remember in 2015, at this point in the race, Donald Trump was at 4%. So when he mocks everybody who's in single digits, like, I love it. I'm like, yeah, like you--


--seven years ago. I was ahead of him when he came into the race seven years ago. I certainly never expected him to pass me. Believe me. But this is not a static situation.

Seven years ago, there was very little any of us could say about Donald Trump. He didn't have a record in public office. He made up his record in the private sector. Like you would think the Trump organization was like-- that he was like running Microsoft. He was running a family business that had about 70, 80 employees, real employees in the headquarters. Now it was thousands, if you count every greenskeeper and waitress and bartender, but he wasn't really managing those folks from day-to-day.

He had made a lot of money in his life, inherited a lot, turned that inheritance into something bigger. Congratulations. That's really good. That's what everybody in America would like to do. But there wasn't a record for us to talk about. There is now, if we're willing to talk about it.

Now before tonight I've heard one candidate for the Republican nomination talk frankly about his record, not one. They wouldn't mention his name. Like I said before, it's Voldemort time, everybody. They won't mention his name. I watched, and this shows you what a sad, sad life I really have, I watched large portions of the Joni Ernst Roast and Ride in Iowa. A sad, sad existence. But I watched parts of it, and I watched a little bit of every candidate. Not one of them mentioned his name.

They would say cute little things like we need new generational leadership. Oh, I get it. Trump's old, you're younger. Oh, I should vote for you. Or we need a leader who looks forward, not backwards. Oh, I get it. You're talking about the way he still thinks the 2020 election was stolen, and you won't say it wasn't stolen, but you won't say it will, so you're going to keep us all guessing, but you're better than him.

I mean, look, the reason this is going to be different this time, sir, is because, at least, one of us is going to call him on the fact that eight years ago, he stood on the stage in New Hampshire and said he was going to balance the budget in four years. And he left with the biggest deficit of any president in American history.

He said he was going to eliminate the National debt in eight years. He added $3 trillion to the National debt in four years. It's, at least, three. He said, eight years ago, that he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare. He neither repealed nor replaced, even though, he had a Republican Congress.

You all remember John McCain coming in and going vote no. That is a failure of presidential leadership. And why do you think John McCain voted no? Now, look, John McCain is gone, and we can't ask him anymore. And if it were to be that John McCain, who I found to be a pretty principled guy, really didn't believe in the bill.

But I'll tell you something else that I know about John McCain, John McCain had a long memory. John McCain listened to Donald Trump beat him senseless day after day after day after day starting with the beginning of his campaign when he said he wasn't a war hero because he got captured.

Now I would just suggest something on a human relations basis. If you're looking for somebody's vote who is kept in the Hanoi Hilton for years as a prisoner of war and beaten and abused and didn't leave because he said I will not leave unless my men leave with me, if you want his vote, how about trying not to say he's not a hero? How about we start at that minimum amount--


--of public discourse?

And now I heard him say, if we made him president again, he would settle the Ukraine war in 24 hours. Did you hear that one? That's a beauty. That's really in a career of complete falsehoods. That makes the top five. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Let's say Donald Trump could settle it in 24 hours.

Let me tell you how he would. He'd give Ukraine to Russia. And he said it. He said it on television. He said it at CNN. He said, look, Russia is going to wind up with Ukraine anyway, so what's the difference?

That's how he'd settle it 24 hours. He'd call Zelenskyy and say, hey, guess what? Time to raise the Russian flag up on the pole, we're out of here. So I'm going to talk about those things and a lot more because I don't want to do it all tonight because I want you to come to the next one.


But that didn't happen last time. He was given a free pass. Did he ever do this with you? Did Donald Trump come to New Hampshire seven years ago and stand in the middle of the room and take any question from anybody without knowing who you were or what your question was going to be?

Oh, no. He went over to hockey arena and stood in front of a large crowd and gave his normal speech, waited for all of you to cheer and chant his name, and then he left. Got on his airplane and went home to sleep in his apartment in New York. I'm at the Hilton Garden Inn tonight, in case you're wondering. The bar is open until 11:00.

So guess what? I'm calling him out. It's time for him to stand in the center of this room and answer questions. It's time for him not to look at somebody, and when he doesn't like the question, just call them a mean person, right?

Guess what? You want to be president of the United States, stand in the center of room in front of the people that you ask to govern and take their questions. And if he's unwilling to do that, send him back to Mar-a-Lago. Plays golf every day anyway. Let him go back to playing golf. And by the way, that's one other promise. I'm glad I brought that up.

Remember, I stood on the stage in 2016, he said with all the problems America has, how can Barack Obama play 120 days of golf? How can he do it? I won't play one day of golf, I'll be so busy solving your problems that I won't play one day of golf. 265 days of golf in four years. Now, look, I don't golf. So I can guarantee you I won't be golfing.

But that's not the point. The point is it was all a lie. He plays golf all the time. He owns golf courses. So when he told you he wouldn't play one day at golf, here's the worst part, he never meant it. He never meant it. Now seriously, if character is destiny, how do we reward that anymore?

It's one thing to make a mistake. It's one thing to make a bad judgment. But when his whole life is about golf, when most of his profits are in owning golf courses, and then he comes in front of you and says, I won't play a day of golf as president. I don't care whether he plays 500 days of golf.

In fact, having him out of the Oval Office might have actually been better than having him in it. But don't lie to me. Don't treat me like a fool, and tell me you'll never play when you know you have every intention of doing it. And by the way, making the Secret Service stay at your hotel and pay your hotel rates from the taxpayers dime, too. Because let me tell you something, everybody, the grift from this family is breathtaking. It's breathtaking.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House, and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis. $2 billion from the Saudis. You think it's because he's some kind of investing genius or do you think it's because he was sitting next to the president of the United States for four years doing favors for the Saudis? That's your money. That's your money he stole and gave it to his family.

Know what that makes us? A banana republic. That's what it makes us. So he may get 30% again. I'm not sure. Maybe he'll get more, maybe he'll get less. But let me tell you what he'll know 2024 that he had no idea of in 2016, he's in for a fight to get it.


We can't ignore the people in front of the flag for questions.

- Thank you, Governor Christie. My name is James Quinn. I'm 30 years old. I've had 55 surgeries, and I'm an advocate for those with feeding tubes and other health issues. One thing I've noticed is like, for example, I just got a new prescription for my stomach. My mom and dad are on the same meds as well. For them, it's $10. For me, it's $480. We have the same insurance. What would you do to ensure that the pharmaceutical industry would make it fair for those who are on the same meds but not have to pay four different prices?


CHRIS CHRISTIE: We have to find a balance to this country between two things, between you having to pay 480 bucks when your parents are paying $10, and us not inventing any new medicines. See, I think everybody goes to the extremes on these issues, right?

There are some people who don't want any controls on the pharmaceutical industry, don't want any requirements on them, and all the rest, and just let them do whatever they're going to do. And there are some people who want to control prices and control what goes to the pharmaceutical industry in terms of profits.

When COVID happened, the American people got the treatments first and the vaccines first because we lived here, because we have a pharmaceutical industry in this country, and that we support in this country that is changing the face of medical treatment here and throughout the world, but we get it first.

And we get it first because places like Pfizer invested billions of dollars of their own money, not government money. They didn't take any government money. Billions of dollars in their own money on a technology that they didn't even exactly know how they were going to use it. And then when COVID came, the mRNA technology they were using turned out to be able to help significantly in getting rid of the pandemic we had in this country.

So I'm very concerned about us going to a system like Canada or Great Britain where we control prices, fix prices, and we fix profits, because then there's no reason to take risk. Our system is built on the idea that if you take risk, you may lose. But if you win, you'll win big. And we should continue to have that incentive, I think, built in.

However, let me tell you what drives me crazy, and it's just one example of the waste. Let me assure the major pharmaceuticals in this country, there is not a man in this country who is 55 or older, who doesn't know that you could take a pill for a certain problem.

Like if you watch football, baseball, hockey, basketball anywhere, we get it. Stop with all these commercials. Like these commercials drive me crazy. Like ask your doctor for this treatment for cancer. How about this? I'd like my doctor to decide what I should take if I have cancer, if I have high blood pressure, if I have diabetes, if I have other medical issues, and these commercials and the waste of money on these commercials undercuts their argument.

I don't think we need to be advertising drugs. We never did before, and everybody seemed to get the medicine they needed because the pharmaceutical companies went to the doctor, just explained to the doctors what their medicines did, and then the doctors decided for you or me whether that would help my particular medical problem or yours.

I really think if we stopped allowing advertising by the pharmaceutical companies for prescription drugs-- if they want to advertise for over-the-counter drugs that everybody can buy and that are relatively inexpensive, I got no problem with that. They want to continue to advertise for Tylenol or Advil or any of the other over-the-counter stuff that we buy, allergy medicine, all the right-- great.

But prescriptions like-- let's say you like a particular drug that you see on TV. Hey, I'd like to try that. That seems pretty good. You can't go to the store and buy it, you've got to go to your doctor to convince your doctor to write a prescription for you for it. I think this is an incredible waste, and I think there are other places where they waste as well. And I think that's where we have to get at.

And by telling them you got to make a choice. You want to keep advertising, keep advertising but then we're going to restrict your profits I think if they're given that choice, I think we'll see a lot less commercials, if any. And that's what annoys the American people. It's not just when you go to the counter, and you have to pay that price, but it's when you go home and you see the company that charged you $408 for that bottle of medicine now turning around and spending tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising every year.

And the other thing to remember, too, is this. It's not just the pharmaceutical companies. There is a real evil agent in all this, and those are the pharmacy benefit managers. Now some people know who these people are and some people don't. But they are the middlemen between the pharmaceutical industry and your local pharmacy, whether it's a local family owned pharmacy or a CVS or a Walgreens or whatever it is.

And the pharmaceutical industry gives hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars every year in discounts off of their drugs. Guess who keeps most of the discounts? The pharmacy benefit managers. They keep most of the discounts and pass this much on to you. And they are making a fortune for literally doing nothing.

The pharmaceutical companies invent the drugs, the doctors prescribe the drugs, and these people in the middle are just pushing paper and moving medicine, and they're making billions of dollars. Look at some of those stocks like Cardinal Health and others, who make a fortune.

We need to have some common sense reform of that because for middlemen to be keeping the majority of those discounts that the pharmaceutical companies give to try to decrease the rate that you pay at the counter is just wrong. It's just wrong, and I don't know who their lobbyists are, but they must be pretty damn good. Because they fly under the radar screen. But they shouldn't.

So those are two ideas that I have on the advertising side and pharmacy benefit managers that can bring those prices down while not destroying the ingenuity and the inventiveness of the American pharmaceutical industry, which are changing lives every day and saving lives every day. So we've got to find that balance. So that's the way I would go about it. All right. Yes, ma'am.

- Thank you so much. Thank you and thanks for being here. My name is Nancy Ryan, and I live in Lee, New Hampshire. I am New Hampshire's field coordinator for the National Breast Cancer Coalition. And I really liked what you said about thinking big because that is exactly what the National Breast Cancer Coalition does. We want to end breast cancer for everyone.

I don't know if you know this, but New Hampshire has the second highest incidence rate of breast cancer in the country.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I didn't know that.

- So I'm very, obviously, very involved and very concerned about this. What I would like to ask you tonight is to sign the National Breast Cancer Coalition's public policy platform. It's a simple one-page document that asks you as candidate for president of the United States to support our work and mission.

And that would include three major areas, adequate and meaningful funding-- federal funding for breast cancer research, access to quality care for all, and ensuring that educated advocates play a role wherever decisions about breast cancer are made in the public policy and research arena. I have copies of the public policy tonight.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I knew you would.


Well, first of all, let me say thank you for what you're doing because this is part of what makes America great, and what I was talking about before, is that people who feel passionate about something, who believe in a cause have the opportunity to go and fight for that cause and to have their voices be heard and to not give up. And we should never take any of those people like you for granted because that's an incredibly important role in a democracy that's working the way it should.

Second, I know you've got it, give it to me. I'm not going to sign it here because if I signed it without reading it, it would be like those things we get on the internet where they say, do you agree, and we don't want to read the whole thing. So we go, yeah, OK, I agree.

I don't want-- I want to treat it that way, so give it to me. I will read it between now and when I come back to New Hampshire the next time. If you give my folks your number, when I come back, I'll tell you I'm coming back, and I'll tell you whether I'm signing it or not.

- I have given a packet to Doug Meyer.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Oh, well, geez. I'll never get it. Doug's the most incompetent-- Doug's the most incompetent guy my staff. How the hell did you decide to do that? No. Doug's got it. He's a great guy, so I'll get it from Doug and then if you go and give Doug your number on the way out--

- He's got that, too.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Great. Well, then we're set. Good job.


- Thank you, Governor, for being here. My name is Valerie, I am 19, and a New Hampshire State representative. And in regards to domestic policy, what is your chief policy aim in the first 100 days? Thank you.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, look, I can tell you a few because I'm not going to know what I'm going to be confronting in the first 100 days 18 months from now, right? So something may happen between now and January of 2025 that makes me go, oh, OK, I was going to do this, but now I'm going to do that.

I'll give you an example. When I became governor, education reform was my top priority I was going to work on the first 100 days, and then I got there, and we had an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget. The previous governor had said that it was 500 million. A little different. And so, all of a sudden, my first 100 days became consumed with dealing with that. But I'll tell you a few things.

First, on the domestic side, I would go back to education. The thing that's differentiated the United States, in my view, from any other country in the world has been our commitment, our commitment to educating people your age to become more educated than I am. It's not good enough just for you to have the same education I've had, but that you should get better, deeper, wiser. I think your education should be a part of it.

And going all the way down to kindergarten and pre-K, we're failing in a lot of parts of this country. Not everywhere. There are some places that are succeeding. But there's many, many places we're failing, and I think we're failing because we have taken parents out of the educational process.

We've allowed the teachers unions to be able to dominate the educational process, and it's OK for teachers to have input on what education is going to be. They're teachers. Of course, they should, but they shouldn't have the only input. Parents should have input, too, and parents should have choice.

And so one of the priorities of the first 100 days would be to pass a bill that's already out there on federal tax credits for educational choice so that every parent, regardless of their economic wherewithal, if they think that there's a school near them that's better than the public school their child's in for their child, but they can't do it because they don't have the money, we should give them a tax credit to be able to afford to do that.

You should not be able to be stuck with whatever education you get because you're not well off. Because the dreams that people who are not economically successful, at the moment, have for their children are no less important and no less grand than the rich. And so that would be one priority.

Second priority would be we have got to have a discussion in this country about our entitlement programs because, in seven years, Social Security is going to be broke. And if we don't do something about it, if we continue to ignore it then everyone's going to get a 25% reduction in benefits immediately. That's written into the law.

So I don't want to see any senior in this country who is reliant upon their Social Security for them to live from day-to-day. Have to figure out how they're going to fill a 25% hole in their budget, because for most of them, they won't be able to. So we need to deal with Social Security in particular and have a bipartisan conversation about how to fix it because seven years is not a long way away.

And I don't want to see that happen to America's seniors who have paid into the system and built their economic future around Social Security being one of those pillars. I hope they have an IRA or 401(k) to help or maybe a private pension for those that still exist in our country. But Social Security is going to be one of those pillars and we have to deal with it.

And I would think that third, we have to be able to encourage job growth in this country because jobs are changing so rapidly, especially post-pandemic. And I think the best way to do that is to lower regulations in this country and let entrepreneurs be able to create jobs. Do what they do best.

Artificial intelligence and other things that are coming are going to drastically change how we do our jobs every day. And it's going to mean that new jobs are going to have to be created. And you have people who are hysterical over that. And what I'd say to them is there never used to be an automobile engine either. We used to ride horses. Before that we didn't have carriages on the horses.

One of America's greatnesses is that we continue to evolve and grow and get bigger and better and find out how to use new technology to be able to grow. But we can't do that if our entrepreneurs are spending a third of their time filling out forms for the government telling them what they can't do.

And that's part of the problem I have with some of our candidates in this race. They spend all their time telling you what they're going to stop. If I become president, I'm going to stop this. If I become president, I'm going to stop that. If I become president, I'm going to stop this and this and this and this and this. And I'm going to stop all of it. OK.

After you do that, then what are you going to do? Leading a government is not just about stopping bad things, it's about starting good ones, and it doesn't mean the government has to start it, but the government should get out of the way from other people starting it. And so I'm weary of candidates who are just negative. And I'm not talking about negative ads, you'll see plenty of them, and that's never going to change.

Adams and Jefferson ran negative ads against each other in 1800. So this is not going to change. What I'm talking about is the negativity of the language, the negativity of the values. We're all about what we're against. When is anybody going to say what they're for?

It's fine to be against certain things. I'm against certain things, too. But we have candidates in this race where their entire reason for running is to be against things. I'm against this. I'm going to stop this. This trend is going to die in my state. OK. Congratulations. You're a murderer. Sometimes that needs to happen, but what's next? What's your next plan. How are you going to make this country bigger? That's all about making it smaller, not about making it bigger. So those are three things.

And one thing I'm confident of having watched the presidency now for the last 40 years or so of my adult life, there are, at, least a dozen things that are going to be on that desk if I get there that I will not have even thought about, and you wouldn't have thought about. And that's why it matters who you put there, because no matter what we say in these meetings, you should hear us and take us seriously about what we're saying.

But you also got to assess our character and who we are. Because there are going to be so many things that are going to come up that we could not have anticipated, and that I wouldn't have given you an answer for. So you're going to be sitting in your kitchen or your living room or a classroom or a dormitory, and this problem is going to come up, and you're going to read about it, and I don't want you, if I'm the president, to say, oh my god, I have no idea what he'll do about that.

I want you to be able to sit there and take a deep breath and say, I trust them to handle it. And that's character. That's character. That's what gives you the ability. I've been there. I didn't expect Hurricane Sandy to come, I didn't expect the worst natural disaster in the history of my state to hit us and create $40 billion in loss, 365,000 homes destroyed, 2/3 of the state without electricity for two weeks. No operating water treatment or wastewater treatment plants anywhere in the state.

I don't-- that's not in the manual. And I'll tell you when you know your governor or president is when that happens, and you go around the table to all your advisors, and they tell you everything that's going wrong and then when they get done, they just all stare at you.

There's a few of my former cabinet members sitting over here tonight, and they'll remember that day. They sat around and looked, they told me everything that had happened, and then they just sat there and looked at me. And that was the moment where I said, oh, I'm governor. I got to come up with a solution to this.


And they're looking at me, going, you asked for it. You're the guy who wanted the big job. It's that moment when it's what's in here, what's in here that matters. Because there's no manual. There's no guide. It's what were you taught, how were you raised, what are your values? Are you honest? Are you accountable and responsible? Are you willing to admit mistakes? Are you willing to admit when you failed and pick yourself up and try to make it better?

Because I'm confident that everybody in this room has failed at something in your lives. And if you just lay on the floor and stayed in the fetal position, you wouldn't be here tonight. Everybody in this room has their story about when they were challenged. And that's the least you should be able to expect from somebody who wants to be president of the United States.

All right. I think I could take two more, and then I'm already at two hours. So which is two hours more than Donald Trump has done this, so.


- Hi. Good evening, Governor. Thank you for being here. My name is Andrew Moore from Tamworth, New Hampshire. Earlier in your speech, you talked about mistakes you made throughout public service and throughout your life. What would you say your biggest mistake has been through your time in public service and what have you done in order to avoid those mistakes in the future?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, thank goodness that you just restricted that to public service. Because now I don't have to-- so I don't have to admit another mistake that I made to Mary Pat. That's good. It's a relief.

Look, the biggest mistake I made in public life was that I put a few people into a position of authority at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who went on a frolicking detour to divert traffic off the George Washington Bridge without telling me, without me knowing anything about it. They used my power and my authority to play a fraternity prank, and it cost me a lot.

It cost me credibility, it humiliated me publicly, and I should have never put those people in that position. The biggest mistake I made. And those people didn't commit a crime because being stupid in America is still not a crime. But let me tell you, they tried to send them to jail for it, and the Supreme Court overturned it and said it's not a crime. Stupidity is not a crime. But it was a mistake on my part. I didn't see who they really were. And I've got to be responsible for that.

I could have never guessed. I will tell you it was the biggest shock of my public life that any of those people would have done what they did, but you're accountable. They acted in my name, and I put them there, and it was the biggest mistake I made. And it cost me credibility with my people. It cost me humiliation with people that I love and care about, who counted on me to be better.

And so what I learned from it is measure twice, cut once on personnel. Personnel is policy. More than anything else, personnel is policy the people you pick, you must completely trust, and it doesn't mean you won't make a mistake, but you probably won't make one as grave as that.

And so it was a mistake. And I've said I was sorry for it at the time, but I think now it's 10 years ago, believe it or not. And 10 years later, the perspective I have on it is the same as I had at the time, which is I could never guess it, but it was my job to make sure I did. And so you're going to make those mistakes.

I think what it will help me do if I become president is to not make that same kind of mistake again. And to really not take any position of authority that you give to someone else lightly. Because believe me, I didn't supervise these people every day.

They were off in New York City doing their work. I'm down in Trenton. I didn't see them. But you know what? They were acting in my name, so I got to be held accountable for that. And I can guarantee you I was in a significant way. So that's probably the biggest one. All right, last one. Let's go to this guy right here.

- Thank you, Governor. I've been waiting for this one.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: All right. End on a hot one. Let's go.

- OK. You brought up the concept of smallness. I believe in a past life you were a federal prosecutor.


- You know what it takes to build a case, to bring an indictment.


- If Donald Trump is indicted and you become president, will you pardon him?


CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, I have to tell you the truth. I can't completely answer that until I know what he was charged with and convicted of. But I'm not going to dodge the answer, OK? But I will tell you as a prosecutor, if I believe someone has gotten a full and fair trial in front of a jury of their peers, and especially someone in public life who committed those crimes when they held a public trust, I can't imagine pardoning them.

- What is your opinion?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, look, you know what?

- Again, modest opinion.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Right. I hear what you're saying, and I know what the point is that you're making. But what I would say about what happened with Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon is we lived in a much different time then. Remember then-- remember, Richard Nixon resigned because he said, we can never let an American president be impeached. And if-- once I knew I was going to be impeached, I impeached myself because I had to put the country first.

Since that time, we've had Bill Clinton impeached, and he let it happen and stayed. And we've had Donald Trump impeached twice. All of those acts, we're putting the person before the country. Richard Nixon put the country before himself. He committed horrible crimes.

But in the end, when the moment came as for him to decide whether he was going to put the country through an impeachment proceeding and a trial in the Senate, he said the country is more important. And I believe that that's one of the reasons Ford gave him a pardon was because he didn't put the country through all that.

And I think Ford, in part, wanted to reward that behavior of putting the country before himself, even though he had failed that test any a number of times during his presidency, but he left as a result. I didn't see that conduct in Bill Clinton, and I have not seen that conduct in Donald Trump to put the country before their own self interest. And I think that's a key part of deciding whether someone merits a pardon or not.

Remember the other thing, by accepting a pardon, the person must acknowledge their guilt. That's why I'm completely in the clear.



Completely in the clear. It will never happen. That will be the shortest phone conversation I will ever have as president. I'll think about you, and I'll pick up the phone and say, Donald, I'm willing to give you a pardon, but you have to admit you were guilty. He would say, I will never, ever, ever do that. And I'd say, have a nice day, and hang up, and then I'll be done.

So as a practical matter, I am an absolutely no danger, , I don't think of having to make your decision. But I think it's an important question, and it's not an easy one. I'm having some fun with it, but it's not an easy question to answer. And that's why I say to you, I can't give a complete answer to you until I know what he was he convicted of, what was his exact conduct, what's his willingness to accept responsibility?

All those things are things that, as a governor, and I granted a number of pardons as governor, that I had to consider before I would give a pardon. And I'd need to know all that before I made a final decision. But the obligation of the person receiving the pardon is to admit their guilt and to ask for forgiveness. I understand this as a Catholic.

I had a great conversation one time-- my wife is really going to cringe that I tell this story. She's already cringing. I was 18 years old, and they had just started in the Catholic Church face-to-face confession. And so I had to go for the first time. Not in the booth, not with the screen, not with any even pretense of anonymity, I'm now sitting across from my parish priest having to confess.

So I went through the normal stuff, which you can imagine I would have to confess, took the Lord's name in vain, spoke disrespectfully to my mother and father, wasn't kind to my brother who's here tonight also.


I confessed all those things.

But then I asked the priest, I said, Father Lorenzo, I said, do you have to confess premarital sex? And Father Lorenzo looked at me, and he said, only if you're truly sorry for it--


--and you're going to try as hard as you can to never do it again. So I listened to him, and then I looked across at him, and he said, anything else? And I said, nope.

So I understand the concept of confession and taking responsibility. And I don't know that I'd ever be confronted with the problem that you raised for me because I don't think he ever will. And that tells you something, too. It tells you something. If you've committed a wrong, if you've made a mistake that rises to the level of criminal conduct, and has a jury find you, beyond a reasonable doubt, unanimously guilty of a crime-- there are mistakes that are made by the jury system all the time, but you'll know in your heart whether you did it or you didn't. And the country has a right to know.

And the admission of guilt is not some punishment. If you're a public official, the admission of guilt is to let the public know what was done in their name on their watch. And then and only then, I think, should you consider somebody in public life for a pardon like that.

Before I embarrass my wife any further, I should wrap up. But first, I want to thank all of you for coming tonight. This is what our democracy should be about. This is what our democracy should be all about. It should be about people who aspire to leadership coming in front of you and hearing about your concerns and given their honest answers and let the chips fall where they may.

And so I intend to spend a lot of time up here over the next eight months, and I intend to let you have multiple cracks at me to see what you can find out, and let you discover or rediscover, , for some of you who I am and what I offer.

Here's what I'll promise you. I promise you I will always show up, I will always take your questions, I will always answer them honestly, and I will always listen. We may disagree. In fact, I'm confident we will at times. But you'll never ever, ever, ever have to wonder whether I hear you, and whether everything I do, I believe, is in my heart and in my mind is the best thing for our country.

You see, I believe, if you bestow on someone the greatest civilian honor that you can bestow on any American, that is to make him or her the president of the United States of America. That the least we owe in return is to work as hard as we can every day without regard to our self.

There'll be plenty of time for us to care about ourselves when we leave. When you leave office, none of you would begrudge any former president to go out there, live their lives, make money, do what they want to do with their lives, play as much golf as they want, do whatever it is they want to do.

But while you're serving, in my mind, every analysis of every problem must start with the question, what in my heart and my mind do I believe is in the best interests of the 330 million Americans that I represent? Not just the ones who voted for me, not just the ones who support me in a public opinion poll, not just the ones I've met, but all the ones that I'll never meet and certainly never get to know, but who we share a common bond.

Washington said one time, the reason I continue to disagree with people is to remind myself I'm an American. George Washington understood that to disagree, to discuss, to argue with each other was truly, purely American. And for the leaders, the job is to take those disagreements and not stoke them, or pour gasoline on them, but to put your arms around them and try to solve them because you're uniquely in a position where you can do that.

If you want to know what kind of president I will be, that's the kind of president I'll be. I won't apologize for saying what I say and believing what I believe. But I also will not condemn someone else for having a different opinion. First, I'll just try to convince them they're wrong and try to get them on my side.

And if that fails, then it's my job as the executive leader of the government to find a place where we can meet somewhere near the middle. So that we can check that box, at least, partially resolve that issue, and move on to the next one. Because if we don't, we're going to stay in neutral, and countries who are neutral, by definition, get smaller and less significant, less prosperous, and less free.

So I know that with all the cameras, you guys, the reporters, the coverage, and all the rest of it, it can seem like this is a TV show. It's not. It's time for us to stop believing that somebody who acts on a TV show is qualified to be president of the United States.

These are real problems that real serious people need to solve by putting your interest first, not their own. By taking the mirrors down and opening the windows and looking out and seeing the country that we have, but even more importantly, the country that we want.

I have thought in the last few weeks as I was getting ready to make this decision about one moment. I allowed myself to daydream about one moment, and it's the moment when you walk out onto the front of the Capitol, and you stand there getting ready to take the oath of office. And Ronald Reagan was the first president to do this. To not put it on the back side of the Capitol but put it on the front. And when you look out, you see the National Mall, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial.

I've thought about that moment, and what I've hoped for is that if I ever get the chance to do that, that looking out at the monuments to those great Americans, that if I have any moment of smallness, of pettiness, of self aggrandizement or self consumption, that I remind myself of that view.

And that Washington and Lincoln and Jefferson, among others, did not put themselves first. They put this country first. And that's why we're sitting here tonight in Manchester, the richest, freest, happiest people the world has ever seen. That will be what I'll try to be for you, if you give me the chance and the way I will live every day of the presidency, if you give me the honor and privilege to lead you. So thanks for coming tonight. I appreciate it.