Christie promises blunt campaign as he enters 2016 contest

Christie Follows Formula for Campaign Announcement

LIVINGSTON, N.J. (AP) — A tough-talking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie launched his 2016 campaign for president Tuesday with a promise to tell voters the truth even if it makes them cringe.

The Republican governor, a one-time GOP favorite who faded and now tries to climb back, lashed out at "bickering leaders" from both political parties in a kickoff rally in the gymnasium of his old high school. And in his trademark blunt style, he told voters — and warned Republican rivals — that he's ready to be aggressive in the 2016 contest.

"You're going to get what I think whether you like it or not, or whether it makes you cringe every once in a while or not," Christie declared. He added: "I am now ready to fight for the people of the United States of America."

Check out social media reactions to his announcement:

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Chris Christie Social Media reactions
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Christie promises blunt campaign as he enters 2016 contest
.@ChrisChristie is first NJ presidential cand since Bill Bradley and Steve Forbes in 2000. #Christie2016
@AdamLRKES @BURNSESSION @ChrisChristie My dog would be a better president , he's made NJ worse
New Jersey's credit rating has been downgraded *nine* times under this guy! Count me in! #Christie2016 http://t.co/CaSJBUEqjw
We'd hoped to attend the #Christie2016 event, but there was terrible traffic on the bridge...
#Christie2016 #FINALLY
#ChrisChristie is planning to run for president. Fortunately for him there is no actual running involved. #Christie2016
Christie running for Prez. Iowa Corn Dogs futures go through roof. #ChrisChristie
CHRIS CHRISTIE HI HELLO YOU DO YOU MAN #jerseystrong
Stop criticizing #Christie2016 for lack of selfcontrol. Pointing out his disastrous actions/words in Jersey speak louder than #numnum jokes.
CHRIS CHRISTIE HI HELLO YOU DO YOU MAN #jerseystrong
BREAKING: Chris Christie announces he's lightly jogging for president
Fat jokes at Chris Christie? Low-hanging fruit...not like he digs fruit anyway #Christie2016
Chris Christie is running for President. You go, girl. Leave me out of it, but you go.
The candidates keep crawling out of this Republican clown car. #Christie2016
Chris Christie it's a presidential election, not a hotdog eating contest. #electiontips2016
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Christie enters a Republican presidential field that already has more than a dozen GOP candidates. Not all draw as much attention as Christie, who will compete for the same slice of the electorate as pragmatic-minded White House hopefuls such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

But it's an accomplished lineup of governors, senators and business people. Christie's effort is largely driven by his outsized personality, and his resume, while notable, contains scattered land mines that have given many Republicans pause.

Four years ago, some of Christie's backers tried to persuade him to challenge President Barack Obama. In the years since, he won re-election with ease, but also struggled to revive New Jersey's moribund economy and fought with the state's Democratic-controlled legislature over pensions and the state budget.

While Christie's turn as head of the Republican Governors Association was widely viewed as a success in the 2014 midterm elections, he's also faced the fallout from the actions of three former aides, charged with creating politically motivated traffic jams at a bridge to retaliate against a Democratic mayor who declined to endorse Christie's re-election.

Christie has not been tied directly to wrongdoing and denies he had anything to do with the bridge closing. No evidence has emerged to refute that.

Still, the episode deepened the sense that he may surround himself with people who will do anything to win. He declared early in the scandal that "I am not a bully" to counter the public perception that he is just that.

The governor faces a tough sell with many conservatives, but has seemingly found his stride at times in visits to early voting states with the lively town hall meetings he's known for at home. There will be plenty more of those now that he's an affirmed candidate.

Emboldened by his political successes in heavily Democratic New Jersey, he sees himself as a leader who can work across Washington's bitter partisan divide.

"We need this country to work together again, not against each other," he said with his wife, Mary Pat, and their four children standing behind him. He promised to lead a White House that would "welcome the American people no matter what party, no matter what race or creed or color."

Yet Christie also jabbed Obama's "weak and feckless foreign policy" and called Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton the president's "second mate."

"America is tired of hand-wringing and indecisiveness and weakness in the Oval Office," he said. "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."

In 2012, Christie was seen as the charismatic, pragmatic governor who burst onto the scene in made-for-YouTube moments. He gained national attention with a landmark deal in which the state's public sector unions agreed to higher health care costs and retirement ages in exchange for promised payments into the state's chronically underfunded pension season.

But now, Christie has been eclipsed by others in a pack of more than dozen rivals. And his poll numbers at home have sunk to record lows. New Jersey's economy is lagging and there have been nine credit downgrades on Christie's watch.

Christie grew up in Livingston, a town about 20 miles west of New York City, and served as class president at the high school. His high school friends were among the first to receive word that Christie would be launching his campaign at their old school.

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Peoples reported from Washington.

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Follow Jill Colvin and Steve Peoples on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/colvinj and http://twitter.com/sppeoples


See Chris Christie throughout the years:

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Chris Christie weight loss
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Christie promises blunt campaign as he enters 2016 contest
BELMAR, NJ - MARCH 25: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laughs during a Town Hall Meeting with families affected by Superstorm Sandy at Belmar Borough Municipal Building on March 25, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Christie talked about some of the programs the state is running for homeowners, as well as efforts to build and restore dunes along the coast this spring,The governor was not asked about the George Washington Bridge lane-closure (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - MARCH 25: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Town Hall Meeting with families affected by Superstorm Sandy at Belmar Borough Municipal Building on March 25, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Christie talked about some of the programs the state is running for homeowners, as well as efforts to build and restore dunes along the coast this spring,The governor was not asked about the George Washington Bridge lane-closure (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - MARCH 25: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Town Hall Meeting with families affected by Superstorm Sandy at Belmar Borough Municipal Building on March 25, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Christie talked about some of the programs the state is running for homeowners, as well as efforts to build and restore dunes along the coast this spring,The governor was not asked about the George Washington Bridge lane-closure (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
KEANSBURG, NJ - FEBRUARY 04: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a press conference with families affected by Superstorm Sandy at a lounge in the New Point Comfort Fire Company on February 4, 2014 in Keansburg, New Jersey. Christie, whose governorship is being threatened by a scandal is facing federal investigation over use of Sandy funds. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
EWING, NJ - OCTOBER 30: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie updates members of the media on damage and recovery efforts related to Hurricane Sandy from the emergency operations center at State Police Headquarters on October 30, 2012 in Ewing, New Jersey. High winds and a massive storm surge caused major destruction to the Jersey Shore and throughout the Garden State. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 29: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laughs while speaking during the Republican Jewish Coalition spring leadership meeting at The Venetian Las Vegas on March 29, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat Christie look on during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament between the Connecticut Huskies and the Iowa State Cyclones at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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