NEWARK, NJ — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched his bid for president on Tuesday with the goal of re-introducing himself to a national audience, telling his most loyal supporters that he’s ready to begin what he called a noble effort to “lead our country and to change the world.”
The Republican governor of a largely Democratic state has slipped from favor with fellow party members and faces a tough sell with many conservatives in a crowded election field.
He will be the 14th major Republican to enter the race for the party’s nomination, with no clear front-runner so far. He said both political parties “have failed our country” in an announcement speech calling for more compromise in politics.
“America is tired of hand-wringing and indecisiveness and weakness in the Oval Office,” he said.
And in his trademark blunt style, he told voters — and warned Republican rivals — that he’s ready to be aggressive in the 2016 contest.
“You’re going to get what I think whether you like it or not, or whether it makes you cringe every once in a while or not,” Christie declared. He added: “I am now ready to fight for the people of the United States of America.”
Christie went on to a town hall meeting in Sandown, New Hampshire, receiving enthusiastic applause from the standing-room crowd as he arrived with his family.
Christie has already held nearly a dozen town halls in New Hampshire, the state which traditionally holds the first presidential primary election every four years. He plans to spend the next week in the northeastern state.
Christie once was one of the nation’s most popular state leaders, and his turn as head of the Republican Governors Association was widely viewed as a success in the 2014 midterm elections.
But his approval ratings have reached record lows at home. Christie had a landslide re-election to a second term as governor in 2013, but he was later nearly felled by scandal involving his aides and deliberate traffic jams at a bridge to New York City in an effort to hurt a political rival.
Aides now try to emphasize his charismatic personality, quick wit and plain-spoken manner, while fighting some critics’ view of him as a bully.
Christie often emphasizes his working-class roots as a contrast to candidates like Jeb Bush, the son and brother of presidents. He used his announcement in the gymnasium of his old high school to show how his upbringing shaped him in articulating his vision for the country.