By Alex Pappas
With New Jersey’s Bon Jovi blaring over the speakers, Chris Christie on Tuesday became the 14th Republican to join the race for the White House, vowing to fix the dysfunction of Washington D.C.
“If Washington and Jefferson and Adams had believed compromise is a dirty word, we’d still be under the crown of England,” Christie said, offering himself as fixer who will speak bluntly about the country’s problems.
The announcement resembled a town hall, with Christie roaming the stage with a microphone and his family standing behind him.
“Americans are filled with anxiety,” Christie said. “They are filled with anxiety because they look to Washington D.C., and they see a government that not only doesn’t work anymore, it doesn’t even talk to each other anymore. It doesn’t even try to pretend to work anymore.”
Lamented Christie: “We have a president in the Oval Office who ignores the congress and a congress that ignores the president. We need a government in Washington D.C. that remembers you went there to work for us, not the other way around.”
In his announcement at his alma mater Livingston High School, where Christie was class president for three years and graduated in 1980, the New Jersey Republican entered the stage to Bon Jovi’s “We Weren’t Born To Follow.”
“When I decided to make this announcement, there wasn’t any choice,” Christie said. “I had to come home. And Livingston is home for me.”
During his speech, Christie called for reforming entitlements, growing the economy at 4 percent or greater and a foreign policy that projects strength across the world.
“After 7 years of a weak and feckless foreign policy run by Barack Obama, we better not turn it over to his second mate, Hillary Clinton,” Christie said.
“We have to stop worrying about being loved,” he said, “and start caring about being respected again, both at home and around the world.”
“I am not running for president of the United States as a surrogate for being elected prom king of America,” Christie said, part of his “Telling It Like It Is” campaign theme.
“I am not looking to be the most popular guy who looks in your eyes every day and tries to figure out what you want to hear, say it, and then turn around and then doing something else,” Christie promised. “When I stand up on a stage like this in front of all of you, there is one thing you will know for sure. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean, and that’s what America needs right now.”
Christie was re-elected as governor in 2013 with more than 60 percent of the vote and was using that victory to establish himself as a top contender for 2016. But his popularity has taken a hit since then. He enters the race Tuesday not as frontrunner, but as underdog among the many Republicans seeking the same office.
Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump and Bobby Jindal are all running for president.
And more are expected: By the end of July, there should be at least 16 Republicans in the race. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are both expected to announce their entry into the contest.
Christie on Tuesday heads to New Hampshire for a series of town hall meetings. It’s the state Christie has spent the most time in.
But for now, he still has work to do: according to the Real Clear Politics polling average of New Hampshire, he is currently in sixth place with 5.6 percent, behind Bush, Walker, Trump, Paul and Rubio.