New Jersey’s first pro-life governor since Roe v. Wade has a message for the Republican Party: Social issues don’t have to bog us down.
“I’m pro-life and it didn’t bog me down!” Gov. Chris Christie declared on CNBC’s "Squawk Box", while describing how Republicans can get ahead in 2016 -- i.e., by being more like him.
In the CNBC interview, Christie pitched his no-nonsense brand of compassionate conservatism as the cure to Republicans' presidential woes, ahead of 2016. He advocated avoiding the kind of social issue debates that have derailed many GOP candidates in the past as he boasted about his track record of earning votes from Independents, women, and Hispanics in an “enormously blue state."
“If you allow yourself to get bogged down you will get bogged down,” he said. The panel then asked Christie about the Hobby Lobby ruling, which will allow for-profit companies to avoid paying for contraceptives for employees on religious grounds.
“Why should I give an opinion on whether they’re right or wrong … it’s now the law of the land. This is how you get bogged down,” he said. “That’s not the most central issue we should talk about today.”
Christie and the CNBC panelists spent the majority of the interview discussing the budget -- and vetoes -- Christie signed on Monday, reducing spending and rejecting tax hikes proposed by state Democrats. He championed his work to fix the state’s pension system, which is severely overburdened and has been coming up short in recent years.
“We need to be talking about this, you’re going to see me all summer across the state of New Jersey making the argument that we’re going to need to fix the system or it’s going to eat us alive,” he said.
Christie was seen as a leading 2016 candidate with sky-high approval ratings last year, but when the "Bridgegate" scandal erupted, revealing that top Christie aides had closed down lanes leading up to the George Washington Bridge to cause a traffic jam as political revenge. Since then, he has sought to re-establish his good reputation. According to a Monmouth University/Asbury Park poll out on Tuesday, Christie's approval ratings have stabilized at 50%.
Christie also spoke about his stance on drugs, centering a generally liberal stance on treating drug addicts instead of putting them into the prison system in conservative theory.
"I’m against legalization of marijuana, but what I have said is the war on drugs is a failure. It’s a failure because this is a disease," he said. "If you’re pro-life, you need to be pro-life for the whole life not just while they’re in the womb. Sometimes … it’s messy."
"I’m going to talk about that all over the country," he added. "Even those who are drug addicted are a gift from God and we’ve got to give them the tools to [recover.]"