New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched his presidential campaign at Livingston High School, his alma mater. His classmates selected him class president more than 35 years ago, and he returned to the school on Tuesday to formally announce his run for higher office.
"Lots of people have asked me over the course of the last week why here? Because everything started here for me," Christie said. "When I decided to make this announcement I had to come home and Livingston was home for me."
Christie's announcement does not come as much of a surprise. Earlier this weekend, the governor released a teaser video and created a campaign website. The video highlighted his relationship with his mother, which has become a routine component of his early stump speech. On Tuesday morning, he reportedly called supporters in advance of his announcement to let them know of his intention to pursue higher office. In Essex County, N.J., the crowd did not mind hearing him focus on family once again. Christie was preceded on stage by a woman that described herself as a registered Democrat who does not always agree with Christie, but knew his mother well.
The audience waved signs displaying the governor's mantra, "Telling It Like It Is," as he pledged to offer opinions some people may find unpopular. Christie made several promises onstage, including that he will directly answer the questions he is asked, that his campaign will not worry about what is popular, but focus on what is right, and that he will not use spin or pander to the audience. He then told the audience, "I love each and every one of you."
Christie has an uphill path to the nomination. He joins the Republican presidential field as the 14th major candidate, and a pair of governors is expected to announce next month. He finished ninth in RealClearPolitics' average of polls, and 11th in Fox News' most recent national poll, which places him behind candidates such as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Donald Trump.
Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist and veteran of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, told the Washington Examiner Christie has to hit a number of notes just right in order to remain competitive in the increasingly crowded field.
"The first step is he's got to make it to the debate stage or his candidacy's sunk, if it's not sunk already," O'Connell said. "He's got to get on the debate stage to get off life support."
O'Connell said Christie's bid looks similar to McCain's campaign in 2007, in that the governor will need to rely heavily on New Hampshire in order to gain momentum and craft a path to the nomination. Christie heads to New Hampshire this evening, and will reportedly remain in the state through the July 4th holiday.