Chris Christie rejects measure to ban child marriage

NEW YORK, May 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The governor of New Jersey declined to sign a measure into law on Thursday that would have made the U.S. state the first to ban child marriage without exception.

Republican Chris Christie, a supporter of President Donald Trump, said such a ban would conflict with religious customs.

Underage marriage is widespread in the United States, where about 170,000 children were wed between 2000 and 2010 in 38 of the 50 states where data was available, according to activists.

Although age 18 is the minimum for marriage in most of the nation, every state has legal loopholes allowing children to wed.

The New Jersey bill would have prohibited any marriage of children under age 18.

Christie conditionally vetoed the measure, sending it back to the state legislature with proposed changes. He said it should have an exception so a judge can approve marriages for 16- and 17-year-olds.

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NTP: Bangladesh youth marriages
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NTP: Bangladesh youth marriages
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter has her makeup done at a beauty parlour on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 32 year old Mohammad Hasamur Rahman stands on a bed above his new bride, 15 year old Nasoin Akhter, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: A relative tries to drag 15 year old Nasoin Akhter onto a bed to pose for photographs on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter has her wedding sari wrapped at a beauty parlour on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: Wedding guests dance and celebrate on the day of the wedding of 15 year old Nasoin Akhter to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter is bathed on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter is bathed on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter is bathed on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: Gold wedding jewelry is laid out for 15 year old Nasoin Akhter on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 32 year old Mohammad Hasamur Rahman arrives to his wedding venue on the day that he will marry 15 year old Nasoin Akhter August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter sits with relatives while posing for photos on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter poses for a photo at a beauty parlour on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter stands in the doorway of a neighbors home on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter looks out of a dressing room at a beauty parlour on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 32 year old Mohammad Hasamur Rahman poses for photographs with his new bride, 15 year old Nasoin Akhter, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 19: 14 year old Mousammat Akhi Akhter poses in her home August 19, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. Last year, when she was only 13, Akhi got married a 27 year old man. She had finished 6th grade and wanted to wait until she was older to get married, but she says her parents felt social pressure to marry her young. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 19: 27 year old Mohammad Sujon Mia stands for a photo beside his wife, 14 year old Mousammat Akhi Akhter in their home August 19, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. Last year, when she was only 13, Akhi got married a 27 year old man. She had finished 6th grade and wanted to wait until she was older to get married, but she says her parents felt social pressure to marry her young. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 20: 15 year old Nasoin Akhter is led by relatives to a car that will take her to her new home on the day of her wedding to a 32 year old man, August 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 19: 14 year old Shima Akhter stands on the front porch of her home August 19, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. Last year, when she was 13, Shima married an 18 year old man. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
MANIKGANJ, BANGLADESH - AUGUST 19: 14 year old Shima Akhter walks through a field near her home August 19, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. Last year, when she was 13, Shima married an 18 year old man. In June of this year, Human Rights Watch released a damning report about child marriage in Bangladesh. The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 29% of girls marrying before the age of 15, and 65% of girls marrying before they turn 18. The detrimental effects of early marriage on a girl cannot be overstated. Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15-20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk. Research cites spousal age difference as a significant risk factor for violence and sexual abuse. Child marriage is attributed to both cultural tradition and poverty. Parents believe that it 'protects' girls from sexual assault and harassment. Larger dowries are not required for young girls, and economically, women's earnings are insignificant as compared to men's. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
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"An exclusion without exceptions would violate the cultures and traditions of some communities in New Jersey based on religious traditions," Christie said in a statement.

Opponents of the measure said exceptions should remain for marriages of young members of the military - 17-year-olds can enlist with parental consent - and pregnant teenagers.

The bill as it was already approved by both houses of the legislature would have made New Jersey the first state to outlaw child marriage altogether, according to Unchained At Last, a group that opposes arranged and forced marriages.

Most such marriages are underage girls married to older men, it said.

Communities and ethnic groups in the United States known to practice arranged or forced marriage include Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Sikhs and Hmongs, according to Unchained At Last.

N.J. Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, the bill's main sponsor, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation she was disappointed.

"It's not an absolute veto, which is good," she said.

The measure could become law if legislators send it back to the governor with his recommendations.

Studies have shown that child marriage is associated with mental health problems, poverty and increased high school drop-out rates.

The New Jersey bill prompted similar legislation in the states of California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. (Reporting by Sebastien Malo @sebastienmalo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, speaks during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The talent show that is a presidential campaign began in earnest Saturday as more than 1,200 Republican activists, who probably will vote in Iowa's caucuses, packed into a historic Des Moines theater to see and hear from a parade of their party's prospective entries. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MENDHAM TWP., NJ - NOVEMBER 04: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie emerges from a voting machine after casting his vote, November 4, 2014 at the Emergency Services Building in Mendham, Twp., New Jersey. All 12 of N.J.'s House seats are up for grabs today. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie poses for a picture with students of Saint Rose Hight School during a visit to Belmar two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, speaks during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. The talent show that is a presidential campaign began in earnest Saturday as more than 1,200 Republican activists, who probably will vote in Iowa's caucuses, packed into a historic Des Moines theater to see and hear from a parade of their party's prospective entries. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 24: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The summit is hosting a group of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates to discuss core conservative principles ahead of the January 2016 Iowa Caucuses. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 13: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shakes hands with audience members before the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie addressed topics ranging from state pensions to new drug addiction solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 13: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shakes hands with audience members after the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie addressed topics ranging from state pensions to new drug addiction solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 13: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gives the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie addressed topics ranging from state pensions to new drug addiction solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 13: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gives the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie addressed topics ranging from state pensions to new drug addiction solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 13: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gives the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie addressed topics ranging from state pensions to new drug addiction solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 13: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shakes hands with audience members after the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie addressed topics ranging from state pensions to new drug addiction solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 13: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gives the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie addressed topics ranging from state pensions to new drug addiction solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 13: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gives the annual State of the State address on January 13, 2015 in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie addressed topics ranging from state pensions to new drug addiction solutions. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (L) after speaking to US troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, December 15, 2014. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat pose for a picture with students of Saint Rose Hight School during a visit to Belmar two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat pose for a picture with workers of Pasoh Salon during a visit to Belmar two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at an event in Belmar two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at an event in Belmar two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
N.J. Gov. Chris Christie has formed a new political action committee to enable him to raise money for a potential 2016 presidential bid. WSJ's Heather Haddon has more.
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat attend an event in Belmar two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: A man shots slogans to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie while speaks to the audience during a public event in Belmar, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: A man is removed by security guards while he shots slogans to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during a public event in Belmar, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during a visit to Belmar, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
BELMAR, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat pose for a picture with a baby while they visit Belmar, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Belmar, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie walks next to Richard Weited, owner of East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Richard Weited watch as Weited's granddaughter (not pictured) walks up as he visits the East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with members of the media as he visits the East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with members of the media as he visits the East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with members of the media as he visits the East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with members of the media as he visits the East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with members of the media as he visits the East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with Richard Weited, owner of East Dover marina, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with members of the media as he visits the East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talks with Richard Weited and his wife Valerie, the owners of East Dover marina, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages, and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie poses for a picture with Richard Weited (R), owner of East Dover marina and Mike Greiseh (L), two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shake hands with Richard Weited, owner of East Dover marina, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie walks next to Richard Weited, owner of East Dover marina, two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
TOMS RIVER, NJ - OCTOBER 29: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie walks next to Richard Weited, owner of East Dover marina two years after Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2014 in Toms River, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy was recorded as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It caused over $68 billion in damages and hundreds of people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Today marks when its storm surge hit New York City and the surrounding area which flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) poses for photographs with customers during a campaign stop with Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) campaigns with Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (L) at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan pose for a 'selfie' with a supporter during a campaign event at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) poses for photographs during a campaign stop with Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (2nd L) hears from a supporter during a campaign stop with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (L) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie say their goodbyes after a campaign stop at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (2nd L) and Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (2nd R) greet customers during a campaign stop at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (L) pose for photographs with a Honey Bee Diner employee during a campaign stop October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) and Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (R) pose for photographs with customers during a campaign stop at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens closely to a supporter while campaigning with Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (2nd L) and Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (3rd L) talk with customers at the Honey Bee Diner during a campaign stop October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens closely to a supporter while campaigning with Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) campaigns with Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (R) outside the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signs the cover of a copy of Time magazine while campaigning with Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (L) and Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan arrive for a campaign event at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GLEN BURNIE, MD - OCTOBER 28: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (L) and Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan (R) pose for a 'selfie' with a supporter during a campaign stop at the Honey Bee Diner October 28, 2014 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This was the third campaign event that Christie has held with Hogan. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CLIVE, IA - OCTOBER 25: Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) stands in front of a huge cup cake display at his Birthday Bash, Saturday October 25, 2014 in Clive, Iowa. Already distinguished as the states longest -serving governor, Branstad would become the longest -serving governor in U.S. history, were he to win the November 4th election. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)
CLIVE, IA - OCTOBER 25: Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) attends a Birthday Bash for Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) October 25, 2014 in Clive, Iowa. Already distinguished as the states longest -serving governor, Branstad would become the longest -serving governor in U.S. history, were he to win the November 4th election. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)
CLIVE, IA - OCTOBER 25: Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) attends a Birthday Bash for Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) October 25, 2014 in Clive, Iowa. Already distinguished as the states longest -serving governor, Branstad would become the longest -serving governor in U.S. history, were he to win the November 4th election. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (L-R) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie join U.S. President Donald Trump for an opioid and drug abuse listening session at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie before their meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (L) and Kellyanne Conway (C), campaign manager and senior advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team, leave Trump Tower in New York, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie stands next to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) as U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) signs H.J.Res. 41, providing for congressional disapproval of a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to "Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers." at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 14, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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