February 7th, 2016
01:07 PM ET

Governor Christie “I think the whole race changed last night"

SOTU

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), Republican presidential candidate, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss the GOP debate, New Hampshire primary and more.

 

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

 

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

 

 

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666;

Zachary Lilly – Zachary.Lilly@turner.com; Brooke Lorenz- Brooke.Lorenz@turner.com

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

 

Christie on his performance in the GOP debate: “I hope that what I showed people last night is that I'm the person who's best prepared to beat Hillary Clinton. If Republicans want someone who can get on that stage and hold Hillary Clinton to task for the things that she's done and the things she's proposing, and they - and they're trying to choose between me and Marco Rubio, I think last night showed what they should do.  You need someone with experience, someone tested and ready. Let's remember this, Jake, this is not about me.  It's about the American people.  They want an effective

 

Christie on Rubio:  “I think the whole race changed last night, because you know, there was a march amongst some in the chattering class to anoint Senator Rubio.  I think after last night, that's over. And so I think there could be four or five tickets now out of New Hampshire, because the race is so unsettled now.  You can't trust Senator Rubio to be the nominee of this party.  And that's what I was saying last night. We need someone who's been tested and ready to go against Hillary Clinton.  You just had her own.  She is a skilled debater.  She's an experienced Washington insider.  And you'd better have somebody on there who can take her on. Senator Rubio proved last night he can't do that.  So now let's get to the next phase.  And I'm ready to go….. there's been a march for Senator Rubio.  Mr. Trump has been where he's been in New Hampshire and been fairly steady there.  The fact is that Senator Rubio is unprepared to be president of the United States. Now, there could be a time where I go after Mr. Trump as well.  But, you know, those are decisions for me to make. As I said to - to someone recently, I said, you know, I engage at a time of my choosing.  And that when I did it.  And I chose last night to engage with Senator Rubio, because the stakes are so high here in New Hampshire. We cannot nominate what the Democrats did eight years ago, a first term senator unprepared for the world, unprepared for the race….. All New Hampshire voters who are out there this morning, you watched last night. Do you think this is a Marco Rubio coronation? Do you think this is what should happen? Or do you need someone who's been tested, tested by Hurricane Sandy, tested by a Democratic legislature, tested by a hostile media in New York City? I've been tested in a way that Senator Rubio never has been.”

 

Christie on final days leading up to the New Hampshire primary: “…I'm going to close the deal with the voters in New Hampshire in the last three days.  And - and what they should know is when you vote for who you believe is the best person to be president, you're never wasting your vote.”

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

 

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST:  Now, the man who many pundits are calling the star of last night's extremely fiery Republican debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who's here with me.

 

He sparred memorably with Senator Marco Rubio surging after his strong showing in Iowa.

 

Let's take a quick listen.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This country already has a debt problem.  We don't need to add to it by electing someone who has experience at running up and destroying the credit rating of a state.

 

But I would add this.  Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing.

 

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  That's what Washington, DC does.  The drive-by shot at the beginning, with incorrect and incomplete information, and then the memorized 25 second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.

 

RUBIO:  This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true.

 

CHRISTIE:  There it is.

 

RUBIO:  He knows exactly what he's doing.

 

CHRISTIE:  There it is, the memorized 25 second speech.

 

RUBIO:  Well, that's the...

 

CHRISTIE:  There it is, everybody.

 

RUBIO:  - that's the reason why this campaign...

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

TAPPER:  That was - that was quite something to behold.

 

I guess the big question is, you definitely scored some points against Rubio, but did you score points for Chris Christie?

 

CHRISTIE:  Well, I hope so.  I hope that what I showed people last night is that I'm the person who's best prepared to beat Hillary Clinton.

 

If Republicans want someone who can get on that stage and hold Hillary Clinton to task for the things that she's done and the things she's proposing, and they - and they're trying to choose between me and Marco Rubio, I think last night showed what they should do.  You need someone with experience, someone tested and ready.

 

Let's remember this, Jake, this is not about me.  It's about the American people.  They want an effective presidency.  And they need someone who's tested.  And I've been tested and Senator Rubio has not.

 

TAPPER:  You have staked a lot on New Hampshire.

 

Do you think you need to finish top three?

 

Do you think you need to win?

 

CHRISTIE:  I think the whole race changed last night, because you know, there was a march amongst some in the chattering class to anoint Senator Rubio.  I think after last night, that's over.

 

And so I think there could be four or five tickets now out of New Hampshire, because the race is so unsettled now.  You can't trust Senator Rubio to be the nominee of this party.  And that's what I was saying last night.

 

We need someone who's been tested and ready to go against Hillary Clinton.  You just had her own.  She is a skilled debater.  She's an experienced Washington insider.  And you'd better have somebody on there who can take her on.

 

Senator Rubio proved last night he can't do that.  So now let's get to the next phase.  And I'm ready to go.

 

TAPPER:  The obvious political answer to the question I'm about to ask is that there is a, quote, unquote, establishment lane, and that's why you're taking on Rubio, because he is occupying that lane, as is Kasich, as is Jeb Bush.

 

But some voters might wonder why aren't you going after the frontrunner, Donald Trump?

 

CHRISTIE:  Well, because there's been a march for Senator Rubio.  Mr. Trump has been where he's been in New Hampshire and been fairly steady there.  The fact is that Senator Rubio is unprepared to be president of the United States.

 

Now, there could be a time where I go after Mr. Trump as well.  But, you know, those are decisions for me to make.

 

As I said to - to someone recently, I said, you know, I engage at a time of my choosing.  And that when I did it.  And I chose last night to engage with Senator Rubio, because the stakes are so high here in New Hampshire.

 

We cannot nominate what the Democrats did eight years ago, a first term senator unprepared for the world, unprepared for the race.

 

TAPPER:  Here in New Hampshire, you've been telling the story of a man you met in Iowa whose son is going to Iraq.  The AP learned that the voter was planning to caucus for you but ended up switching to Rubio because he thought Rubio had a better chance of winning the nomination.

 

With two days left to go, what do you say to the voters out there who are thinking about you but thinking well, maybe Rubio has a better chance at the nomination for the exact reason you gave and they don't want to throw away their vote?

 

How do you convince them a vote for me is not a throwaway?

 

CHRISTIE:  Well, they watched last night.  All New Hampshire voters who are out there this morning, you watched last night.

 

Do you think this is a Marco Rubio coronation?

 

Do you think this is what should happen?

 

Or do you need someone who's been tested, tested by Hurricane Sandy, tested by a Democratic legislature, tested by a hostile media in New York City?

 

I've been tested in a way that Senator Rubio never has been.

 

So in Iowa, I'm sure that was - I - listen, I have great respect and affection for that couple.  I'm sorry I didn't close the deal with them.  I thought I had.  I had them until Monday morning and I didn't keep them for the last 12 hours.

 

But I'm going to close the deal with the voters in New Hampshire in the last three days.  And - and what they should know is when you vote for who you believe is the best person to be president, you're never wasting your vote.

 

TAPPER:  How has this experience changed you at all, if it has...

 

CHRISTIE:  Well, it...

 

TAPPER:  - running for president?

 

CHRISTIE:  It has and - and what it's taught me is just how profound the problems are in the country and how people are really affected by them, how they're really hungering for leadership.

 

And it's also taught me, again, to be a better listener.  You know, I mean I'll just tell you that for me, I've always thought that more than half of leadership was listening, giving - empowering people by listening to them.

 

But I've done, now, nearly - nearly 100 town hall meetings in this state and it's helped to really teach me how to listen, even better than I had listened before.

 

And the last part of it is, it teaches you that you can't take yourself too seriously.  There's going to be a lot of things that happen in this business that are outside of your control.  Just be yourself.  Be who you are, present that to the voters and where - whatever happens in this race, I'm content with the way I've run it.  I've been myself and I was myself last night.

 

TAPPER:  And do you think that that's changed you personally, not just as a politician?

 

CHRISTIE:  Everything that I do in my professional life changes me personally.  It's such a big part of my life, it's like saying that you're not in public service, you're the not the governor somehow when you go home, you always are.

 

Now, my wife and children don't treat me that way.  You know, there's no "Hail to the Chief" being played at the house.

 

But the point is, everything that happens in your professional life, when it's so much a part of you affects your personal life, too, positively and negatively, Jake.

 

And so when there have been tough times, I bring that home.  When there are good times, I bring that home.  And - and when I learn things, I bring that home.  So - and so does my family, by the way.  My two younger children were there last night at 12 and 15.  An incredible learning experience for them.

 

TAPPER:  All right, Governor Chris Christie, we'll see you on the campaign trail.

 

Good luck on Tuesday.

 

CHRISTIE:  Thank you, Jake.

 

Appreciate it.

 

TAPPER:  Thank you so much.

 

And don't forget, CNN will have complete coverage of the New Hampshire primary all day Tuesday.  We will be live here in New Hampshire starting at midnight in Dixville Notch when they vote really early.

 

###END INTERVIEW###

 

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