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Chris Christie insists his temper is 'controlled anger'

Christie, who announced his 2016 bid on Tuesday, faces an uphill battle from his current underdog status in the crowded GOP field.
New Jersey governor and newly declared presidential candidate Chris Christie isn't exactly the Ann Landers of the GOP. But the tough-talking Republican insists that his periodic flare-ups of temper are "controlled anger" -- and demonstrate his passion for the big issues.

During an interview on NBC’s “Today,” which aired on Wednesday, host Matt Lauer told Christie that some Republicans worry about his temper, and asked him if he has the temperament to be commander-in-chief.

RELATED: Chris Christie officially declares 2016 candidacy

“Absolutely,” Christie said, insisting such outbursts were rare and that when it has happened in the past, it has been “absolute controlled anger.”

“I’m angry about the fact that taxpayers were being ripped off in New Jersey. I’m angry about the fact that our urban kids can’t get a good education. I’m angry about those things, you’re darn right I am. And I think America wants someone who’s willing to fight for that,” Christie said.

Christie has had his fair share of combative moments as governor, perhaps most famously in 2014 when he told a protester at a press conference around the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy to “sit down and shut up.” Several other heated exchanges have taken place at his town hall events, including the time he called a law student an “idiot” and when he told another resident why it was “none of your business” why his kids were in private school.

The governor, however, insisted in the "Today" interview that he has become more reflective in the aftermath of the Bridgegate scandal, which several of his former aides and allies were allegedly involved in. Christie has denied any prior knowledge of the scheme to snarl traffic on the George Washington Bridge, seemingly for political retribution. “There’s no question that the badgering and battering that I took in the media and the stress of having something bad happen on your watch—no doubt made me more reflective.”

Christie faces an uphill battle from his current underdog status in the crowded GOP field, where former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker lead in several early surveys.

During his 2016 announcement Tuesday in his hometown of Livingston, New Jersey, the governor stressed his leadership of a blue-leaning state and criticized both parties for gridlock in Washington, D.C.

RELATED: 6 questions to quiz yourself about Chris Christie

There's no doubt that the political landscape today is much different than 2012, when conservatives all but begged Christie to run in the lead-up to election. Polls show Christie pulling single digits in the emerging GOP field this time around.

The governor said he was concerned that he may have missed his best shot at a White House bid. “Here’s the most important thing. In 2011 and 2012, I was not ready to be president,” said Christie. “You don’t run just because you think you can win, you have to think you can win and then you are ready to do the job.”

Christie is currently in the early voting state of New Hampshire, where he’ll hold nearly a dozen events through July 4.