|Christie One of Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating People|
|By RUSSELL GOLDMAN (@GoldmanRussell)||Dec 10, 2012, 3:01 PM|
Chris Christie, New Jersey's bombastic governor, found himself literally in the eye of the storm when two of this year's biggest news stories -- the presidential election and superstorm Sandy -- collided.
Christie's unique role in both of those events along with his outsized personality earned him a spot on Barbara Walter's list of the 10 most fascinating people of 2012.
Courted to run for president, Christie instead became an early and vocal supporter of Republican nominee Mitt Romney. That support, however, came under fire when fans-turned-critics accused him of costing Romney the election by praising President Obama's leadership in the aftermath of the storm.
"First of all, I didn't help [Obama] win," Christie told Barbara Walters. "I was doing my job."
"The fact of the matter is President Obama won the election pretty comfortably… I was doing my job as I saw fit to do it. And I told the truth, like I always do. The president did step up and help tremendously in New Jersey."
Tune in for "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012" on December 12 at 9:30PM EST.
When the two men flew in the president's helicopter Marine One to survey storm damage ahead of the election, Christie said he made his allegiance clear.
"I said, you know, I'm not voting for you," he told Walters. "And he said, 'I never thought you were.'"
If Christie, 50, was the object of fascination in 2012, he's already an object of speculation for 2016. Despite, ruffling some conservative feathers for his praise of Obama, he earned plaudits for what many saw an act of political bravery.
Already, he is at the top of many Republican short-lists for the next presidential election. But if Christie is considering a bid for the White House, he is not talking about it.
"I don't know what I'll feel like in 2016," he said. "First things first, that was another thing my mother taught me. First things first. First things first is to finish the job I have here."
Christie said his decision not to run this year was easy. "I love my job," he said.
Christie has earned a reputation for being blunt and at times a hothead. He's called a constituent asking him a question an idiot and chastised Atlantic City residents for failing to following an evacuation order calling their decisions "stupid and selfish."
Asked if he needed to undergo anger management therapy, the governor said his outrage was generally deserved.
"You know, anger is not a vice," he said. "There are times when it's appropriate for folks to react angrily. And it expresses a particular emotion and point of view that I think is very powerful."
For the most part he said, he did not regret his outbursts.
It wasn't just his tough talk during the storm that earned him high marks, but an ability to empathize with those most affected as well. He said he was "most moved" by a meeting with a 9-year-old girl named Ginger, who had lost her home, at a firehouse in Middletown, N.J.
"Ginger came up to me and said, 'Governor, I'm so scared... My home is gone.' And she started to cry," he said.
"I just kind of grabbed her by the shoulders, and I felt tears welling up in me, and I said, 'You shouldn't have to worry about this. The adults are in charge.'"
"I still have Ginger's cell phone number. I've called her a couple of times since then just to check on her and make sure she's doing okay," he said.
Christie cuts an imposing figure, not only because of his outsize personality but because of his size.
Describing himself as "more than a little" overweight, Christie confessed to having "had more diets and lost and gained back more weight in my lifetime than I care to count. It's something I'm in the midst of trying to work on now. It's something you work on all the time."
Christie said he lives his life by looking forward instead of dwelling on the past.
"I guess my philosophy has always been rip off your rearview mirror," he said.