Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie said his recent “battles” in his home state of New Jersey made him stronger and better prepared to run for president.
When Christie appeared at a Voters First Forum Monday night with 13 other GOP candidates in New Hampshire, the forum’s moderator Jack Heath of WGIR Radio was tougher on Christie than other candidates, telling the governor that it seemed like his time to run for president could have already “come and gone.”
“You saying I’m washed up, Jack?” Christie asked.
Heath explained that Christie has recently had some “battles” in New Jersey, implicitly referring to the “Bridgegate” scandal that somewhat tarnished Christie’s rising political star.
“I was not ready,” Christie said about his consideration to run for president in 2012. “I looked this time…all the things that have happened to me in the past four years have made me better…I’m ready.”
On the policy front, Christie gave answers that were hard to pin down ideologically.
Christie recently garnered criticism from libertarians for vowing to enforce America’s marijuana prohibition.
“We’re the first state in the country to say for first-time nonviolent drug offenders, no prison,” Christie said, noting his state’s policy of sending first-time drug offenders to rehab or counseling instead. “The war on drugs has been a failure. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone in this room has made a mistake.”
Christie said that it’s important to reach out to drug offenders and say, “We need to get you treatment rather than prison…This can happen to anyone…Anyone, anyone can have this happen to them…This is a disease and we need to fix it.”
Christie outright rejected the idea of providing ransom to terrorists in exchange for hostages, and said that veterans should be able to take their veteran cards to non-VA hospitals and get treatment there.