By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Surrounded by his family, Gov. Chris Christie told the story of his parents and his upbringing, then talked about what New Jersey has shown him.
“See this place, this place that represents the most ethnically diverse state in the country, the most densely populated state in the country. We’re all different and we’re all on top of each other like you’re top of each other in this gym. And what has come from that is the absolute belief that not only can all of us achieve whatever dream we want to achieve because of the place where we live and the opportunities that it gives us. But that we not only can do it together, but we have to do it together, we have no choice but to work together. This country needs to work together again, not against each other,” he said.
He spoke without a teleprompter and there seemed to be a new urgency in his tone.
“Americans are not angry, Americans are filled with anxiety. They’re filled with anxiety because they look to Washington D.C. and they see a government that not only doesn’t work any more, it doesn’t even talk to each other any more, it doesn’t even try to pretend to works any more. We have a president who ignores Congress, a Congress that ignores the president. We need a government in Washington D.C. that remembers you went to work for us, not the other way around,” Christie said.
Four years ago he had said he wasn’t ready to be president, but that has changed.
“I have spent the last 13 years of my life as U.S. attorney and governor of this state fighting for fairness and justice and opportunity for the people of the state of New Jersey. That fight has not made me more weary, it has made me stronger and I am now ready to fight for the people of the United States of America,” Christie said.
He kept calling the current administration weak, and then came the declaration.
“America is tired of hand-wringing and indecisiveness and weakness in the Oval Office. We need strength, decision-making and authority back in the Oval Office and that is why today I am proud to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America,” Christie said.
At home, he called for four percent economic growth and a better education system.
Abroad? A more muscular foreign policy.
“There is only one indispensable force for good in the world, and it is a strong, unequivocal America that will lead the world and not be afraid to tell our friends we’ll be with you no matter what and to tell our adversaries there are limits to your conduct and America will enforce the limits to that conduct,” Christie said.
He took a swipe at the leading Democratic candidate.
“And the fact is this — after seven years of a weak and feckless foreign policy run by Barack Obama — we better not turn hit over to his second mate Hillary Clinton,” Christie said.
He promised to live up to his new slogan — “telling it like it is.”
“When I stand up on a stage lie 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 said.
At the end, he proposed a bargain.
“If you give me the privilege to be your president, I will wake up every day not only with my heart strong and my mind sharp but with my ears open and my arms open to welcome the American people — no matter what party, no matter what race, creed or color — to make sure that you know this is your country too. We are gonna go and win this election and I love each and every one of you. Thank you very much,” Christie said.
So it’s done. Christie is running for president. He said today he has no idea when or how this journey will end. He promised a campaign of big ideas and hard truths. We’ll see how far that takes him.