Chris Christie is known to be outspoken. Americans can expect him to be candid anytime he speaks, and they should expect nothing less from him while campaigning, should he decide to make a White House bid in 2016. However, the New Jersey Governor remains undecided.
He will not rush the decision, but will take more time to reflect on seeking the presidency with his wife, Mary Pat, and family. In the meantime, the Governor is making sure he is not forgotten as candidates from both the Democrat and Republican parties announce their campaigns.
The are plenty of softball issues to debate for those seeking to be the next commander-in-chief, but Christie consistently chooses unpopular topics that he sees as unavoidable, and he is not shy about telling the true as he sees it. His straight talk about entitlements is grabbing headlines, and cementing his reputation as a hard-line conservative. In a 40-minute speech on April 14, 2015, at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, Governor Christie delivered his plan for an overhaul of Social Security he believes is necessary to cut deficits by $1 trillion over ten years insuring the program’s survival.
Any talk about cutting the program has traditionally been very unpopular with senior citizens and those nearing retirement. Since seniors make up an a large percentage of the voting public, addressing the issue prior to entering the race gives the impression Mr. Christie prefers to be thought of as someone who is unafraid to face the toughest issues head-on.
The extensive reforms in Christie’s plan are intended to reshape the benefits structure by phasing in changes that would raise the retirement age to 69, and introduce means testing for retirees with incomes above $80,000. The program would not preclude high income earners for paying into the system, thereby insuring those with little or no retirement income would receive benefits. Mr. Christie acknowledged that some Democrats and Republicans alike would dislike what he has put forth, but pointed out that addressing the failing program requires leadership.
Addressing his own issues, Mr. Christie is confident that his popularity will rebound in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal. A federal investigation opened in 2013 looking into lane closures on the George Washington Bridge has led to the removal of close aids in the governor’s administration. News reports indicate indictments may be forthcoming. The Governor has said he will be less trusting of his staff, and more reluctant to delegate in the future.
While Mr. Christie remains undecided on whether he will make a 2016 bid for the White House, he is taking head-on other controversial issues such as legalized marijuana and gun control. He has been critical of New Jersey’s tough gun laws that have led gun rights groups, such as the NRA, to rate the New Jersey as less friendly to gun owners than other states, but Christie sees the need for an approach to gun ownership that allows citizens the right to protect themselves and also enjoy sportsman activities.
Mr. Christie’s approach to legalized marijuana is not as balanced as his approach the gun rights. He is strongly against the legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational use. In a recent interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Christie stated that as President he would enforce federal drug laws, and not permit states to profit from its sale and use. He has said he sees marijuana as a gateway drug that is contributing to an enormous addiction problem in the United States.
As the race for the presidency heats up and the field of republican candidates expands, the ever outspoken Chris Christie remains undecided on making a 2016 bid for the White House.
By Jeff Pierce
Photo by Gage Skidmore – Flickr License