The following is a transcript of an interview with 2024 Republican presidential hopeful and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that aired on Dec. 3, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the former Governor of New Jersey and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, good to have you back on the program. We know, sir, the RNC is supposed to announce tomorrow who will be on that December 6 debate stage. Has the RNC told you you've qualified to be there and if you haven't, will you drop out?
2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE CHRIS CHRISTIE: I don't think they've told anybody yet who all of us are going to be on the stage, but I'm confident, Margaret, that I will be there and that we have all the qualifications necessary to get there.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because, you told CNN over Thanksgiving, you will stay in the race through the Convention, which would put you into the summer months. Does the field need to consolidate to beat Donald Trump, which you say is one of your prime motivations in running.
CHRISTIE: Look, this field has already consolidated more than any non-incumbent field in this century Margaret. Back this time, eight years ago, we had 13 candidates still in the race. At this time back, you know, in 2011, we had eight candidates in the race. At this time back in 2007, we had nine candidates in the race and so this field is consolidated significantly, and I suspect it will consolidate more after folks vote in Iowa and New Hampshire.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, isn't it a little bit different that you have the 45th President of the United states running, a known entity who has this automatic platform. It's just a different model. It's a different case.
CHRISTIE: Yeah, the other thing that makes it different, Margaret, is he's got 91 counts of indictment against him. The day before Super Tuesday, he's going to start a criminal trial, where his former chief of staff and one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus is going to testify that he committed crimes on his watch and was directed to commit crimes by Donald Trump. There's a lot of things different about this and that's why anybody tried to predict this is just shooting in the dark.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But why don't- why hasn't that turned off the GOP electorate? When you look at CBS polling, and others, he is leading, as you know. And then I mean, you've made clear when some of the other competitors are using really harsh rhetoric that you think that should disqualify them. Why hasn't that extreme rhetoric turned the GOP off of these other candidates either?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, look, I- first off, I don't think you know exactly what's going to happen at all until people vote. Look, if we listen to all the polling, Margaret, Hillary Clinton would be in her second term. So I don't believe that polling is nearly as reliable as it used to be and I don't believe that people tell the truth to pollsters. And so at the end of the day, everybody who's trying to make these decisions now is just wrong. Let's remember something, in this- in the Republican primary in '07, do you know who was winning at this time in '07? Mitt Romney. You know who was winning at this time in '11? Newt Gingrich. And winning this time and '15 was Ben Carson. I don't remember any of those presidencies, Margaret. So you know, my view, we can't worry about that kind of stuff. What we need to worry about is the direction this country is going in, and most people don't agree with it. And if you don't agree with the direction of the country, why would you vote for either Trump or Biden, who have put us in this direction?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I have a lot more to talk to you about including on the issues and the things that we know from our own polling voters want to hear from candidates like you. So I'm going to ask you to stick with us because I do have to take a commercial break and we'll have more questions on the other side of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face The Nation. We have more now from former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, candidate for the Republican nomination. Sir, I want to pick up where we left off. You know, we hear from political pundits all the time, oh, Americans just don't care about national security when it comes to how they vote, but you are the only candidate who has gone to both Israel and Ukraine during this campaign, at least only one still standing. Why was it important for you to go?
CHRISTIE: So, I think if you want to be President of the United States, you have to see these things for yourself. You can't count on reports from pundits or the press, or from other folks in public life. You've got to see it for yourself and I will tell you, when I went to Israel, Margaret, just a couple of weeks ago, the inhumanity I saw that Hamas rained upon the Jewish people in Israel, I went into one home of a 24-year-old couple recently married, both were murdered in their small three-room home. And there were 140 bullet holes in the walls to kill two people, Margaret, it's not just the inhumanity that Hamas executes, it's the joy they take in that inhumanity. And that's why Israel has to do what they need to do to eliminate that military threat. And I think I would not have completely understood it, and couldn't be an effective president if I didn't see it for myself.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll see if some of the other candidates go, one of the things that I also want to pick up on that we see voters responding to thus far is abortion. You know, it's been a galvanizing issue in favor of Democrats. We've seen that a few times now. Are you concerned that in a head-to-head that that will help to buoy the President himself as he runs for reelection? And how does a Republican candidate like yourself, take the issue to the national stage when the message for decades has been it's a state issue?
CHRISTIE: Look, Margaret, I've been consistent on this. I believe the conservative smart approach is to let the states make these decisions and that's what I think they should do. And that's why I said, I wouldn't sign a six-week national abortion ban as Governor DeSantis and now just recently in Iowa, Governor Haley has said she would sign a six week ban. I don't think you can say one thing in one place and something else in another, you need to be consistent. For 50 years, Republicans have argued that the Supreme Court took this decision away from the people. I think this belongs in the hands of the people of each individual state, we see a great democratic, small d, event going on right now across the country, in places like Michigan and Kansas, in Ohio, where people are voting, but let's let the American people vote in their individual states, and decide what they want this policy to be.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So better for the party not to have a national policy, essentially, is what you're saying.
CHRISTIE: I believe that's- I believe that's true. I believe that's what the Constitution guides us to do. And that's where we should stay and that's where I've been. And I'm concerned, quite frankly, Margaret, that, you know, candidates in this race have been all over the block on this. And it's not right, people deserve to have a straight answer from you and that's my straight answer.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, also, giving a fairly straight assessment is Liz Cheney, the former Congresswoman who just did an interview with my colleague, John Dickerson, and told him, 'the United States is sleepwalking into a dictatorship.' Bob Kagan, writer in the New York- in the Washington Post had an op ed saying, 'after Super Tuesday in March, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee and what happens there will be a swift and dramatic shift in the political power dynamic in his favor,' saying all Republican critics, perhaps even yourself will fall silent out of self preservation. Is that how you see your party behaving after March?
CHRISTIE: Look, I can't speak for everyone in my party, I can only speak for myself, Margaret. And anybody who knows me knows I will not be silent. I haven't been silent since the day I got into this race. And in fact, unlike others, you know, Nikki Haley says he was the right president for the right time and that for some reason, you know, drama and chaos seem to follow him. The reason is that he acts like someone who doesn't care about our democracy acts like someone who wants to be a dictator. He acts like someone who doesn't care for the Constitution. In fact, he's even said himself he'd be willing to suspend the Constitution if an election wasn't going in his direction. Margaret, I was the only one on that stage going back to August, when I- when we were asked would you support someone who, you know, was convicted of a felony for President of the United States? Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, they all raised their hands. I did not and I think I've made it very very clear how I feel about this and if folks want to return to some decency and civility why would you ever vote for Donald Trump.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Chris Christie, we'll watch. Thanks for your time, we'll be right back.
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