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Press Release - ICYMI - TIME Magazine: "It's Clear Christie is More Analytical and Prepared Than He Likes to Let On"

November 24, 2015

Chris Christie's New Pitch: Elect a Prosecutor-In-Chief

Philip Elliott

TIME Magazine

For months, Chris Christie has struggled to grab national headlines. He toiled away in Iowa and New Hampshire without any real move in the polls. As his aides grumbled in frustration, Christie told them he valued the paced campaign, where behind-the-scenes work made the difference. After all, it's how he built—and won—cases as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey: have your homework in hand and be ready to take advantage of the opponents' errors. And they always made a mistake.

The groundwork has the potential to pay off. The terror attacks in Paris, which left at least 130 dead, have shifted the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination toward national security issues. It's a move Christie is ready to use to his advantage. "Terrorism is not theoretical. It's not something I discuss in the basement of the Capitol, in a subcommittee meeting," Christie told Florida activists in mid-November. Terrorism in Christie's world is personal.

Years before Christie became Governor, terrorism was a major part of his job. As the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, he lead major national security prosecutions after the September 11, 2001, terrorism attacks, and the lesson of his almost seven years in that office still shapes him today. "Who among us has truly been tested?" he asked the activists, casting himself as the lone Republican contender who can combat America's enemies. It's a theme he will hammer when he speaks to the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday in Washington.

Christie's record as U.S. attorney, which has been glossed over as he has struggled in his presidential campaign, also reveals lesser-known qualities of a politician who has branded himself a tough-talker who never backs down from a fight. As a prosecutor, in repeated cases against corporate wrongdoers, Christie displayed a different set of attributes, including a willingness to compromise and settle cases with targets of his investigations. He broke repeatedly from the reckless bull-in-a-china-shop reputation Christie's critics like to ascribe him. Instead, in conversations with Christie, it's clear he is more analytical and prepared than he likes to let on.

Two events in 2001 shaped his approach to how he wielded power: the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and a corruption case against accounting giant Arthur Andersen.

The former is now front and center in the Christie campaign, but the latter has also been there from the beginning. The question is whether the tide will shift enough in the Republican Party to let him rise to victory. " I'm the only person in this race who has actually done this before," Christie said on CNN on Nov. 23. " National security is not an option. It's a fundamental right. And that's what we will be focused on."


Bush White House phoned Christie on Sept. 10, 2001, to let him know that the 39-year-old was their pick to be the Justice Department's proxy in New Jersey. The next day, the scope of that role changed as the United States faced its deadliest day at home since the Civil War.

"I went to the funerals. I saw the carnage," Christie says of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. For hours that day, he could not get in touch with his wife, Mary Pat, who was working on Wall Street at the time. He had brief contact with her after the first plane struck the World Trade Center but spent hours trying to get through to her afterward. Christie still gets emotional when talking about his college sweetheart and that day when he feared he would soon be raising his four children as a single dad. When she finally returned to New Jersey, caked in dust from Lower Manhattan, Christie knew his new job would be anything but normal. The world had changed.

On a smaller scale, that day also reshaped how Christie would structure the office he would start leading in January 2002. His Terrorism Unit was given the same stature as the Violent Crime Unit and the Narcotics Unit—a huge promotion of a previously backwater operation. Christie met with his dedicated terrorism investigators frequently and reported developments to the Deputy Attorney General for the United States. That man, James Comey, is now the FBI Director and someone Christie speaks of fondly...

Read the full article here.

Chris Christie, Press Release - ICYMI - TIME Magazine: "It's Clear Christie is More Analytical and Prepared Than He Likes to Let On" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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