Christopher James “Chris” Christie was born in Newark, New Jersey, where he lived with his parents until the age of 5. At that time, his family moved to Livingston in the same state, where Christie lived until he graduated high school. After that, he went on to attend (and graduate from) the University of Delaware and Seton Hall School of Law before becoming a lawyer. Today, Christie also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Rutgers University and Monmouth University.
Christie served as the US Attorney for the District of New Jersey before running for and winning election to the office of Governor of that state – a position he still occupies, currently in his second term. With a reputation as a straight-talking, no-nonsense conservative who favors clarity over diplomacy (and at times even tact), Christie raised the ire of his fellows in the Republican party during his management of the Hurricane Sandy disaster in 2012. By publicly praising Barack Obama for the federal government's help during the crisis weeks before the presidential election, he markedly boosted the incumbent President's polling numbers. There are those in the GOP (and on the political right in general) who still blame him for Obama's reelection, and refuse to forgive him. This is of concern to the Governor, who has presidential aspirations and in fact is one of the likely frontrunners for the Republican nomination.
Christie is a noticeably overweight man – in fact, when he was first elected Governor of New Jersey, his weight and body mass index qualified him as obese. While immaterial to his political leanings, many have suggested that his weight negatively impacts his qualifications to be President, raising questions about his health, his vigor, and even his judgment. Conscious of these concerns, Christie has been dieting aggressively since 2011, and in 2013 even underwent lap band surgery. While the exact figure is unknown, he has lost somewhere around 100 pounds in four years, and continues to slim down.
A conscientious conservative with positions agreeable to many Republicans, there are nevertheless caveats to some of Christie's opinions. He opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana – and has even referred to theoretical tax revenues from such a product as “blood money” - but he signed a bill allowing for medicinal cannabis use in New Jersey. He is against gay marriage, but believes homosexual couples should be allowed to form civil unions. And while he is now conditionally pro-life, Christie used to identify as “a non-thinking pro-choice person”. He says that the experience of hearing his unborn daughter's heartbeat in utero caused his views to evolve.
Christie is a serious contender for the GOP nomination in 2016. He has a number of vulnerabilities upon which his opponents – both within the primaries and theoretically after, in the general election campaign – are sure to seize, but he is a solid conservative candidate with wide-ranging Republican support, and should never be discounted by anyone seeking the party's nod.
Chris Christie announces his 2016 presidential candidacy at his alma mater, Livingston High School, in Livingston, N.J. on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.