In an interview on Fox News on March 31, 2014, Christie stated that he was still in "decision-making process" regarding a possible run in 2016, and forwarded the names of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan as his top three GOP candidate choices.
Christie contemplated running for president in the 2012 election, but ultimately declined to do so. He was vetted, but not chosen, by Mitt Romney as a potential vice-presidential candidate. The Romney campaign was reported to have asked him to resign his governorship if he became the vice-presidential nominee because "pay to play" laws restrict campaign contributions from financial corporation executives to governors running for federal office when the companies do business with the governor's state. A memo from the campaign attributed Romney's decision not to choose Christie as his running mate in part to unanswered questions during the vetting process regarding a defamation lawsuit following Christie's initial campaign for Morris County Freeholder, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of Christie's brother, as well as his weight. Christie gave the keynote address at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
The political action committee Leadership Matters was launched January 25, 2015, in order to raise funds and set the groundwork for what Time magazine called "a likely 2016 presidential campaign". The America Leads super PAC, headed by Phil Cox, was registered with the Federal Election Commission on February 23, 2015. As of mid-July the latter had raised $11 million. As of December 2016 the organisation was still in operation. As of April 2017, the campaign still had outstanding debts.
Christie formally launched his 2016 presidential campaign on June 30, 2015, at his high school in Livingston, New Jersey. He had already launched his campaign website on June 27. At the announcement he stated that both political parties had "failed our country", and called for more compromise in politics. "I am now ready to fight for the people," Christie said in his announcement speech. "I am proud to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States of America."
Christie began his campaign with a stop in Maine where he met with Maine Governor Paul LePage, who is the first sitting Republican governor to offer an endorsement for any of the party's 2016 presidential candidates. Calling LePage’s endorsement an honor, Christie said, "To receive an endorsement from someone who knows what it's like to run a blue state, who knows what it's like to make tough decisions, who knows what it's like to engage in hand-to-hand combat to try to get things done for the people who elect you – to get an endorsement from Paul LePage today is an incredible honor."
Christie has said that his campaign will not reimburse the state for the tax-payer funded New Jersey State Police security detail which travels with him on campaign trips.
Between 2010–2014, the state police billed the state $1 million. There have also been more than $800,000 in credit-card expenses related to political and private trips made by the governor, which the administration has refused to make public. Costs to taxpayers for the first quarter of 2015 were $185,000.
“We’re going to continue to conduct this in the same way I’ve always conducted it,” Christie said. New Jerseyeans are overwhelmingly opposed to paying for the Executive Protection Unit for Christie's campaign.
Christie regularly makes use of the state police helicopter for official and unofficial business, for which his campaign partially reimburses the state.
The New Jersey Senate is considering a bill which would require reimbursement of "expenses incurred for travel, food, lodging, security, or any other purposes not directly related to the Governor's regular and official duties as Governor" when traveling out of state to engage in political activities. Christie and his campaign are being sued by three advocacy organisations (New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Families Alliance and BlueWaveNJ) as well as several New Jersey residents who cite his absenteeism from the governorship and misuse of funds.
After withdrawing from the race, Christie continued to travel to campaign for Trump. In the first quarter of 2016 travel costs for the security detail were $170,000., a considerable drop.
Christie was absent from New Jersey 261 days in 2015. Christie was highly criticized for first not planning to return to New Jersey and then staying only briefly for the January 2016 United States blizzard. When asked why he was campaigning in New Hampshire when parts of the Jersey Shore was flooded in sea water Chris said: "What do you want me to do, go down there with a mop?" Records show 190 full days and 71 partial days in 2015 cost NJ taxpayers about $614,000. The final quarter of 2015, when Christie spent 32 days out of state campaigning for the presidency, cost $193,890. The bills totaled cost $492,420 in 2014, $220,355 in 2013; $248,277 in 2012; $129,842 in 2011 and $64,975 in 2010, which did not include the cost of overtime for the State Police troopers in EPU, which according to state regulations is confidential. A lawsuit which claimed that Christie "inappropriately forced New Jersey taxpayers to cover the cost of the governor's security and other key expenses while pursuing the presidency" was dismissed.
Polling had created uncertainty about Christie qualifying for participation in the jointly sponsored Fox News-FacebookRepublican Party presidential debate, the first of the election cycle, on August 6, 2015, which allows for the 10 highest-polling politicians to participate. Christie claimed he would qualify. The methodology used for inclusion is not known. Christie placed ninth in the polls, qualifying for a place. Christie's average standing in polls conducted after the debate raised questions as to whether he would be permitted to participate in the main stage CNN primetime debate in September. Christie ranked 10th in qualifying polls. Christie did not have the necessary 2.5% standing to participate in the November main stage event, but with 1% qualified for the earlier undercard debate event. A rapid improvement his poll numbers however saw him being propelled back to the main stage for the debate on 15 December. Christie made debatable claims in the January 14, 2016 debate. In the February 6, 2016 GOP debate, Christie attacked Marco Rubio, who was polling in third place nationally, criticizing him for repeating his "25 second speech" and not getting to the issues at hand on the campaign trail. His attacks, combined with a verbal gaffe by Rubio, were seen as a devastating blow to his campaign and contributed to his fifth-place finish in New Hampshire. Christie placed sixth.
Christie speaking at an event hosted by the Iowa Republican Party in October 2015.
He spent considerable time in Iowa in 2014 laying groundwork. He had little expectation to win. He placed 10th in a field of 12 candidates with 1.8% of the ballots cast. Having claimed he would be "number one" of the state governors running, he came in 4th.
Christie focused much of his campaign's effort in winning the New Hampshire Republican primary, for which a former Governor's Office staff member and political operative began working in winter 2014. On January 4, 2016 at his campaign headquarters in New Hampshire Christie said "I'm going to be up here until Wednesday night. We'll take a short break, go back home, deliver the State of the State address the week after next in New Jersey, and then come back out on the road again". Christie campaigned extensively using a town meeting format, but polls before the primary slipped and he fell behind. He spent 70 days in the state. In the New Hampshire debate he attacked candidate Marco Rubio. He placed sixth in a field of nine in the New Hampshire primary on February 9.
Following the announcement the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, which had endorsed Christie, said that Christie had committed to him that he would never endorse Trump. A few days later the paper ran an editorial which stated that had been wrong to endorse Christie. Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman, a major contributor who served in the role of National Finance Co-Chair for Christie's ill-fated campaign, called the endorsement "an astonishing display of political opportunism."The New York Times called the new relationship with Trump a bullybromance.
In a speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on April 14, 2015, Christie proposed significant reforms to federal benefit programs. The proposals included reductions of Social Security benefits for high-income seniors, an expansion of means testing for Medicare recipients, and an increase in the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare. Christie indicated that his proposals would not affect existing retirees or those close to retirement. Christie proposed comprehensive federal entitlement reforms, stating: "In the short term, it is growing the deficit and slowly but surely taking over all of government. In the long term, it will steal our children’s future and bankrupt our nation." Christie's proposals would add means testing for Social Security benefits starting with those who make more than $80,000 per year in non-Social Security income and phasing out Social Security benefits entirely for those with more than $200,000 in other income annually. Similarly, Christie's proposals would increase the sliding scale of means testing for Medicare such that seniors with $85,000 in annual income would pay 40% of premium costs and those with more than $196,000 in annual income would pay 90% of premium costs. He also proposed raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits by two months each year starting in 2022, until the retirement age reaches 69. He would likewise raise the age for early retirement from 62 to 64. In addition, he proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare by one month each year so that seniors would be eligible for benefits at 67 years of age in 2040 and 69 years of age in 2064. Christie also stated: “Here’s what you’ll learn about me. I have been talking about the growth of entitlements as a big problem, at both the state and federal levels, for a number of years. Not because it is politically popular, but because it is true."
In 2009, Christie said of Sonia Sotomayor: “I support her appointment to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to keep politics out of the process and confirm her nomination. Qualified appointees should be confirmed and deserve bi-partisan support. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito deserved that support based on their work as Circuit Court Judges. So does Judge Sotomayor. As a result, I support her confirmation. This is a historic moment and her inspiring success story should not only make the Latino community proud, but all Americans.”
Christie supports changes in the criminal justice system which addresses disparities in sentencing, particularly for non-violent and drug-related crimes. He acknowledges racial disparities in sentencing.
In March 2014, Christie gave a foreign policy speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition also attended by other Republican presidential hopefuls. In it, Christie said that everyone he met in Israel during his visit, wanted America to be an "unblinking, unwavering unquestioning friend" but worried that this was no longer true. He said that he is in the business to win elections and not just arguments, saying "If we want to just have arguments and stand for nothing, we could just form a university." Christie said he was overwhelmed by displays of religious tolerance during his recent trip to Jerusalem and used the term "occupied territories" in reference to lands in dispute. Christie later apologized for the remark, which is rejected by some conservative Zionists and other supporters of Israel who see it as validating Palestinian views.
As governor, In 2010 Christie vetoed $7.5 million in funding for family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood, saying the money was duplicative and unaffordable. He vetoed the funding four more times in following years. Christie had repeatedly stated the decision was financial and not one based on his beliefs. In February 2015 he stated. "I'm pro-life, I ran as a pro-life candidate in 2009 unapologetically, spoke at the pro-life rally on the steps of the Statehouse -- the first governor to ever speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of the Statehouse -- and vetoed Planned Parenthood funding five times out of the New Jersey budget."
"I support Planned Parenthood privately with my personal contribution and that should be the goal of any such agency, to find private donations," Christie was quoted saying in The Star-Ledger on Sept. 30, 1994. In 2016, Christie said: "Well I never donated to Planned Parenthood…", Christie claims he was misquoted.
NSA domestic surveillance and national security
Christie supports the collection of metadata of phone calls of American citizens and denizens by the National Security Agency. Christie has cited his tenure as federal prosecutor to gain credibility with fighting terrorism. as a centerpiece of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. "We prosecuted two of the biggest terrorism cases in the world and stopped Fort Dix from being attacked by six American radicalized Muslims from a mosque in New Jersey because we worked with the Muslim American community to get intelligence and we used the Patriot Act to get other intelligence to make sure we did those cases," Christie said. Those cases on his watch and his claims are a source of continuing controversy. with regard to the use of undercover sting operations and informants. National security experts say that other than in two cases, the U.S. Attorney's office in New Jersey under Christie had no apparent role in any high-level international terror investigation while he headed the office, stating, "When it comes to terrorism prosecutions, of the 320 total convictions since 9/11. Christie has prosecuted only a couple, and both were FBI informant cases—not international terrorist plots, or even the most serious cases we have see."
In June 2015, Christie said; "I know there's a lot of perception about my view on gun rights because I'm from New Jersey and because the laws are the way they are, but these laws were being made long before I was governor and no new ones have been made since I've been governor. During his term as governor Christie has vetoed some proposed legislation, re-written others, and signed on bills regulating firearms. Christie was not invited to attend the NRA convention in April 2016. Christie has defined his changing positions on gun control as "evolving".The New York Times has called it pandering. On January 16, 2016 Christie said:"I don't support background checks for every gun sale."
On November 16, Christie was interviewed by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt and stated that his state would not take in Syrian refugees, including orphaned toddlers. In October 2014, Christie said ""I've said before that if there comes a time when the U.S. needs to take some refugees that we should.". In January 2016 he said, "I said right from the beginning we should take no Syrian Refugees of any kind."