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.
Marco Antonio Rubio was born in Miami, Florida to Cuban parents who were naturalized as US citizens. He was given a football scholarship from Tarkio College, which he attended for a year before moving on to Santa Fe Community College, and eventually graduating from the University of Florida (with a Bachelor of Science) and the University of Miami School of Law (J.D. degree). He interned for Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and volunteered for Senator Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996, before embarking upon his own political career. He has since amassed an impressive resume, most prominently including his election to the Florida House of Representatives – eventually becoming Speaker of that chamber – and his current occupation, Junior Senator from Florida in the United States Senate. Rubio announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election on April 13, 2015 in Miami.
Rubio is an unambiguously conservative candidate, enjoying a 100.00 rating from the American Conservative Union for his Senate votes in 2011 and 2012. He supports a flat federal tax rate, opposes the capital gains tax, and has stated that no taxes should ever be raised during a recession. He believes the age at which a person may begin collecting Social Security benefits should be raised for those more than 10 years away from retirement, due to increased life expectancy. Rubio is also strongly pro-life, opposes same-sex marriage, and has stated that there is no responsible way to use marijuana recreationally.
Marco Rubio's "Big Announcement"
With his conservative politics making him well liked among Republicans – especially the important Tea Party segment – Rubio's Cuban heritage in the largely Hispanic city of Miami has helped establish his popularity among Latino voters. This combination of strong right-wing politics and Latino appeal promises a solid advantage to any Republican candidate, aiding Rubio's status as prominent among those most likely to receive the party's nod for 2016. It should be noted, however, that following the nominations of John McCain and Mitt Romney, candidates with dubious conservative credentials, the GOP would have to commit itself to a considerable change in strategy in backing the no-nonsense conservatism of Rubio.