"America is tired of handwringing and indecisiveness and weakness in the Oval Office," the New Jersey governor said today to a cheering crowd. "We need to have strength and decision-making and authority back in the Oval office and that is why today I am proud to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America."
Standing beside him were his wife, Mary Pat, and four children. Christie touted his middle-class upbringing, willingness to "speak the truth" and make tough decisions on pension and education reforms and government spending.
"I'm not running for president of the United States as a surrogate for being prom king of America," the 52 year-old Christie said. "I mean what I say and I say what I mean and that's what America needs right now."
The tough-talking moderate Republican’s campaign slogan is: “Tell It Like It Is." And when it came to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, he did just that.
“After seven years of a weak and feckless foreign policy, we better not turn it over to his second mate, Hillary Clinton," Christie said.
On Saturday, Christie unveiled his presidential campaign site. A day later a short video was posted showing a more personal side of the governor in a town-hall style setting.
“I get accused a lot of times of being too blunt and too direct and saying what’s on my mind just a little bit too loudly,” Christie says in the video. “I know if my mom were still alive, she would say to me, ‘I taught you that in a trusting relationship, you don’t hold anything back’.”
But not everyone was thrilled with the governor's bid. Christie has come under scrutiny for cutting state funding for public school education and for switching his position on common core standards.
"It was really rubbing our faces in it by picking this location,” said Anthony Rosamilia, president of the Essex County Education Association, a group that organized a demonstration outside the high school. "The truth is that his policies have been disastrous for the state of New Jersey."
Hundreds of teachers from across the state wearing red shirts stood in line outside the school protesting the event, chanting and holding signs that read, “LIAR LIAR,” and "Teachers Are Real Heroes."
Some of Christie’s opponents were quick to point out that the school where today’s announcement took place is also the setting where he met childhood friend David Wildstein, a former executive of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who pleaded guilty to involvement in closing local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge -- a scandal that has taken a toll of Christie's political prospects.
Christie’s decision to run for the presidency comes after months of speculation as to whether the governor would throw his hat into an already crowded field of GOP candidates.
In the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll last month, 22 percent of Americans see Christie favorably, while 48 percent see him unfavorably.
But Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, cautioned against underestimating the governor.
"It is clear that he is very capable of rebounding," Harrison said. "He is a masterful retail politician."
"I don't do something great every day, I'm human. But every morning, I wake up with an opportunity to do something great. That's why this job is a great job," Christie said in his speech. "And that's why president of the United States is an even greater job for a greater number of people."