Moments after speaking at a GOP anti-poverty summit in South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie acknowledged that poverty can be "a difficult thing to talk about" in an interview with "Face the Nation" moderator John Dickerson.
"The federal government has so bollixed up this effort to try to combat poverty by being too involved that a lot of folks are uncomfortable with the topic itself." Christie said in the interview, which will air on Sunday's broadcast. "They don't know how to talk about this in real terms."
Christie pointed to his tenure as New Jersey governor to demonstrate how he's talked about poverty and acted to alleviate it. The governor spoke about his effort to double the earned income tax, which he says gave people more of an incentive to work.
"If people decide to go out there, they're going to be making more money working than they're going to be sitting on their couch," Christie explained. "That's where you have to do these things. Give work incentives so the people get back to work."
Dickerson asked Christie about those who believe Republicans don't talk much about poverty "because the poor aren't going to vote" for the GOP.
"I don't believe that's true," Christie replied. "I got 61 percent of the vote in New Jersey. Some really challenged folks in New Jersey economically voted for me in 2013. The fact is they want hope."
"And here's the other thing," Christie continued. "I'm a Republican who campaigns in places where I'm uncomfortable. I go into African American churches. I go into the barrios, to small Hispanic businesses. We have gone and campaigned in all of the major cities in New Jersey, got support from Democratic African-American mayors for reelection...And we need to do that as a party if we're going to be a national presidential party again."
Dickerson later asked the governor about his decision to expand Medicaid in the state of New Jersey under the Affordable Care Act. Christie defended his position, saying that it was good for the state because it made the state money in the end.
"What it did was just have the federal government pick up more of the tab that the state was already picking up. We made about 220 million dollars on Medicaid expansion, which helped us to do other things like cut taxes...do things like the earned income tax credit for people." Christie said.
"Now, if I were president, I wouldn't have expanded Medicaid, but that wasn't my choice. And as governor, my job is to represent the people who have elected me," he added. "We didn't need the federal expansion. We were already protecting a lot of people in New Jersey. What I'm saying is we were paying 50 pecent of that. Now, we're paying none of it. That's a smart thing to do as a fiscal manager in your state, It allows you to do other things. That's why I expanded Medicaid. Not because I philosophically agree with it, but because I'm representing the people of my state."
Tune in Sunday to see more of our interview with Christie! Check your local listings for airtimes.