In his first interview since January of this year when the now famous “Bridgegate” scandal occurred, Chris Christie spoke to Diane Sawyer about how the scandal made him a better leader and also just about admitted he’s going to make a presidential run in 2016.
While in his home in Mendham, NJ Christie told Sawyer that he doesn’t feel responsible for creating the environment that caused his top aides at the time to close down lanes on the George Washington Bridge as political payback.
He was just exonerated from any wrongdoing in the incident and told Sawyer that it was a relief after he heard the news but made it very clear that his administration didn’t hire the law firm to “whitewash” the findings. He also said that he didn’t believe that the scandal would hurt his chances in 2016, saying he was certain it would “make him a better leader” in the long run.
Perhaps one of the larger hints he gave at a 2016 run is when he spoke about the voters in Iowa, where the first primaries will be held, still having a lot of respect for him and liking him.
“I think they love me in Iowa too,” Christie said in the interview.
He continued “I’ve been there a lot. I think they love me there too, especially because of the way I am. Not in spite of, especially because.”
When speaking of his 2016 run, Christie said that he doesn’t believe that “Bridgegate” will affect him.
“What has happened in last 10 weeks, I think will ultimately make me a better leader, whether it’s governor of New Jersey or any other job I might take in the public or private sector,” he said.
Another hint he made at running came when he spoke about his wife, Mary Pat, being on board with his aspirations and that she won’t be standing in his way.
“Our place right now is in New Jersey and as far as the future…I think the future will take care of itself,” she told Christie.
“I certainly don’t think this precludes a future that may lead that way.”
As far as “Bridgegate” is concerned, Christie doesn’t believe that it was his management style that led his staff to believe they could act on their own to get political payback.
“I don’t think anyone would take that as an indication to do something so incredibly stupid,” he said.
“It defies credulity to me. Which is why when things were first reported, I said, ‘This can’t possibly be true.’ Because who would do something like that? Sometimes, people do inexplicably stupid things,” the governor said to Sawyer.
When Sawyer asked him if he believed that the scandal was done on his behalf since the mayor of Fort Lee didn’t endorse him, Christie said that he didn’t think that was the case.
“I don’t believe it was for me,” he said.
He ended the interview telling Sawyer that he wasn’t ever close to resigning.
“I’m not a quitter,” he said.
“You don’t do that. Certainly, from my perspective, position, I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, so there is no reason for me to leave. In fact there is even more of a reason for me to stay, to fix it. That’s who I am — someone who has to fix things. Make them better. So, for me it was even more of an incentive not to go.”
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