Return to Transcripts main page


One-on-One Interview With Chris Christie. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 17, 2015 - 07:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So a new poll over the weekend shows Donald Trump still leading the pack of Republican presidential hopefuls. His closest competitor is 13 points behind Carson. They are leaving some former favorites trying to make up the grounds.

Our next guest is looking to break out. It's Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Welcome.


CAMEROTA: Good to have you on NEW DAY. Let's talk about what happened recently where Donald Trump put out his immigration plan. We want to get your response on how yours differs.

Let's put up a couple bullet points. He's going to make Mexico pay for the border wall as you heard. He's going to deport all criminal aliens as he says, defund sanctuary cities and end birthright citizenship. You've spoken about that too. Do you like that part of the plan?

CHRISTIE: We talked about four different ways you have to secure the border, walling and fencing in certain places, not the entire border. It doesn't make any sense.

CAMEROTA: How are you going to pay for that?

CHRISTIE: The United States will pay for that. This makes no sense. I have met the president a number of times. I think if we present him with a bill, he is not going to pay for it. This is international diplomacy.

It is different. We should build it in those places especially urban areas along the border where it's more difficult to patrol. Second, we need to have FBI, DEA, and ATF agents embedded with border patrol folks to deal with the criminal element.

They are much more trained to be able to deal with gun running and drug running. They are typical border agents. Third, we need to use drones and other electronic surveillance in the more difficult parts of the border to show where we need to deploy human resources more effectively.

And then fourth and most important, we need to use e-verify. The folks are coming to work. They are not coming to vote. They are coming to work. If they know they can't get jobs, they are not going to come. So, that's the most important element of all four. All four are important. That's the most important element.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now you deal with this in a very real way in New Jersey. You have people coming in for the right and wrong reasons. E-verify, nobody has owned the position of I'm going after the employers.

If you don't employ them the wrong way, they are not here the wrong way. It's a third line for people. You think about owning that issue and making it the mainstay of the platform.

CHRISTIE: I am owning it that's why I said it's the most important thing. I know they won't like it. Make your profit legally. I want businesses to make as much profit as possible. If they do, they are going to create more jobs and more economic opportunity.

But you can't do it by exploiting cheaper labor and especially when that cheaper labor threatens our national security and threatens the economic security of the American people.

I absolutely own it. I said this last week in Georgia. The Chamber of Commerce crowd needs to get on board. You want to help fix the immigration system. They need to be part of the solution.

We cannot only blame the people on the southern part of the border. We have people in this country who are employing folks illegally. The reason is to make a bigger profit. I would make the fine so large that any profit is not only wiped out, but then some.

Absolutely, have to do it because otherwise, Chris, people are going to continue to keep coming. If they believe they are going to be employed, they are going to continue to come and find ways to come and it will be more difficult to stop it.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about another wrinkle of exploiting cheaper labor. I'm talking about the gender gap about paying women less. Do you pay women on your staff the same as you pay men?

CHRISTIE: You bet I do. In fact, my chief of staff is a woman. My policy chief is a woman. They get paid no differently than the men on my staff. What I care about is talent. What I care about is talent and commitment. They are the kind of people I have on my staff. That's not only now, but what I do as attorney as well.

CUOMO: We put it to Trump because of what happened with the comments and the ugly comments. He said I take care of women the way it matters, which is what I pay them. I said show me the proof. His guy came on with the proof. He hires them, puts them in position of power, now chase everybody else the way you chased us. Do you think it's true he puts women in positions of power and pay them like men?

CHRISTIE: If they don't, they should. If you are the leader of a large organization like I am in New Jersey, what you care about most is putting the best people in the best position and making sure they are compensated fairly. [07:35:04] Nowhere in that sentence do you hear anything about gender. To me, it doesn't matter. The fact is, I have said to the women on my staff over the course of time, part of it is their obligation, too.

I believe a lot in what Sandberg talks about in terms of women in the professional mode leaning in and making themselves bigger parts of these organizations. That helps to solve the problem, too. In the end, it's my job to set the tone we have in New Jersey.

CAMEROTA: Why I'm looking at the most recent, I believe staff list, you are right the chief of staff is a woman, but I believe that you have three times as many men in your cabinet as you do women.

CHRISTIE: Yes, a number of my women have left.

CAMEROTA: Why is that?

CHRISTIE: Because they got better paying jobs in the private sector, God bless them. Remember, this is also a six-year-old administration. A lot of folks have been with you for a long time. They wind up wanting to go to the next step of their career. They go to the private sector to make more money help support their families, advance their careers.

Here is what I feel like as the leader of an organization and this is whether it is a man or a woman working for me. When they serve for a period of time then it's my obligation to make sure that I help them advance their career in whatever way they think is best.

If it's staying in government that's great, but if it's not, they want to go to the private sector, that's fine, too. By the way, some of those women have also moved to my presidential campaign as well. My communications director is no longer there. She is now running my presidential campaign.

CAMEROTA: You feel good on campaign about the number of women and men, and the pay equity?

CHRISTIE: The person running my campaign for president is a woman. I don't think you can get a better job than that.

CUOMO: It's interesting what he did. He was painted as a misogynist basically. This is what you think of women because of what you say. He's saying judge what I do. It will be interesting. This is the reality for a lot of governments, you have a 3-1 ratio and we need to do better. Will you accept that?

CHRISTIE: Sure, of course, but you have to vote by the way. I would reject the premise. You can't just say, well, this is what I do, so it does not matter what I say. Words matter, too.

When you are a leader, what you say from the pulpit, if you are a governor, a business leader, a member of Congress, and especially when you are president of the United States, you can't excuse awful comments as part of -- well, I do things differently. When you are a leader, what you say matters, what comes out of your mouth matters. I'm glad he's putting that kind forward. Good for him. Good for the women working for him and being treated fairly. The fact is, all of it matters when you're running for president.

CAMEROTA: Let's look at the Democratic side of the race. The new poll shows that Bernie Sanders is gaining on Hillary Clinton. She's at 49 percent. He's at 30 percent. Do you think that is directly tied to the e-mail issue with Hillary Clinton or is there something else going on with her campaign?

CHRISTIE: I think it's two things. I think the first thing is that Mrs. Clinton doesn't answer any questions. She doesn't answer questions. The most recent stuff she was saying yesterday, trying to say everything raised about her is politics. It is not.

If she would answer questions directly, why did you have a private e- mail server? Now I was the U.S. attorney for seven years working for the federal government. They made it clear from minute one, all official business is to be done on government e-mail.

CAMEROTA: She says all her predecessors also used private servers.

CHRISTIE: Not exclusively. I had a private e-mail account, but I didn't do my business on a private e-mail account. She did everything on that account and then what most people are concerned about it, she gets the server cleaned. Why not answer that question instead of talking all the time about, the politics and the Republicans. It is not about politics.

CAMEROTA: What do you think the answer is?

CHRISTIE: I think she didn't want people to see what was on the e- mail server.


CHRISTIE: That's a good question. She needs to answer that too. Why did you wipe it clean, Mrs. Clinton? Why? I mean, seriously. Can you imagine if after the breach investigation began, by the way, I have done all my business as governor on a private server and I have deleted 30,000 of them, but trust me, none of them had to do with the bridge? Give me a break.

She wants to talk about being held to a different standard? What she's doing is refusing to be transparent. I think that's the first problem. Secondly, she's not speaking to the concerns it American people really have because she won't speak to her national security record and a failed national security record.

They are making people feel anxious in this country. If she starts to answer questions, interact with people, the poll numbers would be different. Poll numbers don't matter any way.

CUOMO: There's so much intensity going on. I hear you. We have 400 days left. The intensity of the coverage is we are getting more true measure than we usually do.

[07:40:02] When it comes to the e-mail thing, is this fair pushback on it? Yes, she was using private e-mail. There is no disputing it. You used the bridge-gate analogy. Some of your people got caught on that.

They are like, we are using private e-mail. Here is sometimes a dove tailing of this and if it were so bad, why did t never come up until she decided to run for president?

CHRISTIE: Well, first of all, again, exclusively, Chris. In today's world, everybody has their own private e-mail account even if they were working in government. If they use that for personal issues, family issues, those types of things.

She was exclusively using it. She didn't use her government e-mail account. She wanted every communication that she had within her control while she was the highest ranking cabinet member in the United States?

Why didn't it come up before? No one knew. The people that did know were part of the team. They were part of the team, Chris. God forbid we question Secretary Clinton. Now she's running for president, she's going to be questioned.

You know what? I did this for seven years as U.S. attorney, there is ample evidence here to criminally investigate her conduct. We haven't talked about the fact that the e-mails may have contained classified information, which is clearly against the law.

Remember this, David Petraeus was prosecuted and convicted for this in her husband's administration. You have folk that is were prosecuted and convicted for this. Why would she be any different?

CAMEROTA: We have more questions for you too, Governor. More issues with Governor Chris Christie, that's next. Stick around.


CAMEROTA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's bring back in 2016 presidential candidate, Governor Chris Christie. Thanks for sticking around.

CHRISTIE: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: All right, let's talk about the latest polls. This one was a Fox News poll. It was released over the weekend. You can see the top contenders. I'll put it up for you right now.

CHRISTIE: Read the numbers.

CAMEROTA: The point is, you are not in the top contenders. You are somewhere down at 11. I think you have 3 percent.


CAMEROTA: So, how are you going to change that?

CHRISTIE: Campaigning. That's why campaigns matter. The question they ask in those polls, if this election were held tomorrow, who would you vote for? People will be shocked because they are not going to be held tomorrow. If campaigns didn't matter, we would sit home and watch TV.

CAMEROTA: You are going to pound the pavement and you're going to meet as many as people?

CHRISTIE: We have some money to advertise. We are going to move closer to when people actually decide. There was a recent poll in New Hampshire that said 85 percent of the people have not yet decided. Well, then, the poll is about 15 percent of the people.

I mean, you know, it's time to take a deep breath. We have a lot of work to do. What that poll tells you more than anything else is the race is unsettled. The American people and the Republican primary voters have not got anywhere near making a decision.

It's my job to go out there and convince them that I am the best person. That's what every candidate's job is. Go out and do the best you can. Because of the specificity of the message, the details of the plans and the passion we bring to leadership that we are going to wind up being the winner here.

CUOMO: Can you raise the money?

CHRISTIE: Sure. We have done pretty well raising the money so far, Chris, and we are going to continue to do well at it. We have a group of real loyal supporters that believe Washington is broken and a problem and we need a governor to come in that is strong and direct, tell people the truth and to fix it. Those kinds of people, a few committed people can help you change the world.

CUOMO: Trump is sucking a lot of energy out of the room. There's no question. Now he is the frontrunner. It was interesting to me in the last segment hearing you say, what you say as a leader matters as much as what you do.

He's given you some cover on that. That was going to be a big angle of criticism on you and it has been in the past as you know. What do you think he's done in terms of the dynamic or what did you learn watching him about what you don't want to be and what you do want to be as someone who's out in front.

CHRISTIE: Listen, what I have learned is that the American people are angry at Washington, D.C. and the depth of their anger is being funneled through Donald's candidacy. That's what I have learned the most is that what I felt as I traveled around the country last year, this overwhelming anxiety of people.

We don't want anything to do with Washington, D.C., we want it changed and so, you know, the challenge for me over the course of time, who do you want to change it with? You know, somebody who is blunt and direct? Absolutely, but someone who actually knows how to operate a government or someone that does not and I think that is the challenge moving forward. What I have learned right now is that anger that I detected is manifested itself in the numbers you see with Donald and a lot of folks as well.

CAMEROTA: Times say you were fund raising over the weekend, you raised $11 million?

CHRISTIE: The $11 million was raised by our superpac. We'll be reporting. The campaign started on June 30th. We didn't have to do a report for the campaign. We'll do one I guess mid-October.

CUOMO: OK, so compare that to Jeb Bush's $114 million from his superpac. That's -- you are at a big disadvantage.

CHRISTIE: So is everybody else. If my dad didn't work at the Briers ice cream plant in Newark and was president of the United States, and my brother was president of the United States, I would probably have $114 million, too. There are certain advantages that come along with that.

Everyone in the race acknowledges that Jeb has that advantage. That's fine. He will spend that money. If he uses it well, it will help him. It won't change who he is.

CUOMO: When we were talking the last segment, you said it's time to go after the employers and immigration. That's how you really stopped the problem because if they don't have jobs to go to the right way, they won't come.

Similarly money in politics, superpacs, I know that you are a governor, a politician. You know how to disarm. I hear this at home all the time. But, it's so toxic.

[07:50:07] It's so corruptive of the process that should a leader, at some point come forward and say it's got to stop. I have to have one, but you just can't do it. Is that impossible?

CHRISTIE: It's impossible. It's impossible. Jeb has $114 million, I don't want to have any. Here's what I think we should do. The fact is all these rules are written by lawyers.

CUOMO: It's all legal. This is legal money.

CHRISTIE: Of course, all these rules are written by lawyers and then lawyers figure out how to get around it. Here's what we should do in my opinion. We should get rid of all the laws and everyone should be able to donate as much as they want to whoever they want.

And in return, the candidate should have to give disclosure within 24 hours on the internet because Chris, what you're getting at is especially with some aspects those superpacs that don't have to disclose is people don't know whether you're being influenced by the money you're being given. If we were able to take as much money from where we wanted to, individuals, corporation, whoever and disclose it 24 hours later then we're responsible for everything. The real problem with superpacs in my view is that I can't work with my superpac. The superpac that's supporting me I have no influence.

CUOMO: Which no one believes.

CHRISTIE: I'm telling you, as a former federal prosecutor, I'm not going near that. It's a violation of the law. The superpac has to make whatever decisions to spend money. If you don't like one of the ads and come to me, I'm sorry.

I can't talk about it. I can't say on television that I don't like it. That could be sending a signal to the superpac. Here is the thing. Why not make the candidates responsible for everything? We are going to be responsible for one of us being president of the United States.

Why not for every dollar that comes in, every message that goes out and disclosure in 24 hours. If we did that, then I think in a country with 230 million people, we need a lot of money to communicate to folks and we certainly don't want networks like this to go bankrupt because we are not paying for ads, right?

Let's be honest about it. Let's be straightforward. Let's stop with the games.

CAMEROTA: We have 5 seconds left. Is Vice President Joe Biden going to get in the race?

CHRISTIE: I don't know. We're both University of Delaware alums. Another fighting blue hen in the race wouldn't be a bad thing.

CAMEROTA: Governor Chris Christ, thanks so much.

CUOMO: Good luck, Governor.

CHRISTIE: Thanks, Chris.

CAMEROTA: We'll be right back.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump is cementing his spot in the presidential race. He's the top yet another national poll with other anti-establishment candidates right behind him. So who is Trump helping and who is he hurting, and can he keep up the momentum? We'll take a look at that next.