The afternoon after he won election to another term as New Jersey’s Governor with historic minority turnout, Chris Christie visited Jose Marti Freshman Academy in one of the most minority-heavy cities in the Garden State to say thank you.
“It was a great night last night,” Christie proclaimed. “I am thrilled to have the campaign behind me and to get back to governing.”
But the next campaign appeared to be not far off. In his first formal press conference in nearly two months, Christie held forth with the national and local press on his plans for New Jersey and his own presidential ambitions.
Central to a Christie campaign will be his electability argument. In 2012, 14,569 of Union City’s largely minority residents voted for President Barack Obama, with just 3,050 for Romney. On Tuesday, Christie won the city and took 51% of Hispanic voters and 21% of African American voters, an increase of 19 percentage points and 12 percentage points respectively.
Christie’s frequent outings his post-victory one Wednesday helped secure his win. Christie toured the school before addressing the media, his remarks carried live by MSNBC and CNN.
The school selected for the event, a charter school, is blocks from where his final campaign event was held on Sunday, drawing a heavily Hispanic crowd.
Winning the Latino vote, Christie said, “is what I’m most gratified about what happened last night.”
The governor said he would not let himself be distracted by speculation that he is preparing a bid for the White House in 2016, adding of the rumor mill, “I think that’s nothing but good for the people of New Jersey.”
“If you ask for the big jobs, then you’ve got to do ‘em,” he added. “That’s what frustrates me with Washington so much.”
Christie, who takes over the Republican Governors Association later this month, said that he’s going to encourage GOP candidates to have honest and open discussions with minority voters, rather than make small policy concessions.
“Only special interests [vote with checklists],” Christie said. “Real voters don’t do that. Real voters get a feeling for somebody. It’s an emotional, visceral thing. It’s in their gut.”
He said intends to help vulnerable Republican incumbents in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, all potential prime pickup opportunities for the GOP–and for him–in 2016.
Asked whether he believes he is now prepared to be president, after ruling out a bid on those grounds in 2011, Christie replied that every day as governor makes him more and more qualified.
“I think every day that you do a job like this one makes you a better executive,” he said. “I am a better executive today than when I answered those questions about two years ago. You would think that would make you better to be president.”