TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — In a wide-ranging interview on “CBS Sunday Morning,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie characterized himself as a “fighter,” who is “willing to mix it up to defend his or her point of view.”
Speaking with CBS News Correspondent Tracy Smith, Christie said he was unlike most politician – whom he dismissed as virtually interchangeable.
“I’ll tell you what I think most American politicians sound like, and more importantly than what I think, what citizens think. Remember Charlie Brown’s teacher? ‘Wah, wah, wah, wah’ – it all sounds the same, and you can’t really understand what it is? No one says that about me,” he said.
Christie also defended his perceived abrasiveness, after Smith pointed out that he had publicly called people an “idiot,” “stupid,” a “jerk,” and “crazy.”
“If someone’s an idiot, they’re an idiot,” Christie said. “No, I’m not a bully, but what I am is a fighter. I think a bully is abusive, and a fighter is someone who’s willing to mix it up to defend his or her point of view.”
As Smith reported, Christie is ahead of Democratic opponent Barbara Buono by more than 30 points in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. He also has a 60 percent approval rating, but has won disapproval in many quarters for some of his positions – including his plan to fight a court ruling this past Friday ordering the state to begin granting same-sex marriage licenses.
“I do not (believe in same-sex marriage), but what I will tell you is that I understand that good people of good will have a difference of opinion on this, and so my view on it is, put it on the ballot. Let people decide,” he said.
Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled in a summary judgment Friday that now that the federal government recognizes gay marriages, not doing so in New Jersey would violate the state constitution.
Her order says the marriages could begin Oct. 21, which gives the state time to appeal and ask for a stay to block marriages from happening.
Christie’s office said he will likely appeal the ruling, and will likely seek a stay to prevent same-sex marriages from beginning next month. He said in a statement that he “will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”
The governor has always maintained this should be an issue for the people and decided by them, not the courts or lawmakers. He vetoed a same-sex marriage bill last year.
In the “CBS Sunday Morning” interview, Christie also urged Republican members of Congress to reach a compromise, instead of threatening a government shutdown.
“I think there’s got to be a solution other than that. And I don’t think that we should be doing that,” Christie said. “I don’t think — and I quite frankly, be fair, I don’t think you hear responsible Republican leaders advocating a shutdown of the government.”
Christie also addressed the spotlight he received during Superstorm Sandy 11 months ago. He railed against Congress when federal funding did not come through, and famously embraced President Barack Obama on the Jersey Shore after he had endorsed Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Christie told Smith he did not believe his image alongside Obama helped the president win reelection. But he said some people’s attempt to make it all into a political issue was not appropriate.
“They were badgering me, and I, quite frankly, you know, was tired of it,” Christie said in the interview. “What I said to people is, ‘We’re pulling dead bodies out of homes still, and if you think that what I’m concerned about is politics, you can forget it.”
And as to whether he would run for president in 2016, he said right now it was not an issue he would be addressing.
“You know, I think most of them probably don’t,” Christie said. “I’m not making that decision now, I never would. Be stupid for me to do it. See, there’s that word, using it on myself. If I were to make that decision now, it would be stupid.”
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