President Donald Trump shakes hands with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a panel discussion on an opioid and drug abuse on March 29, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Shawn Thew-/Getty Images)
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Outgoing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told NJ.com in a recent interview that he “absolutely” believes he would be president if Donald Trump had not entered the race.
What did Christie say?
In a wide-ranging interview on his time in office and his failed presidential campaign, Christie called the 2016 presidential race "incredibly exciting" and "at times very discouraging."
"(The) stakes are exciting,” he said. “The issues you're talking about are exciting."
Christie said it was frustrating to be praised by voters who said they were going to support then-candidate Trump.
"And ultimately frustrating at times because the reaction I would get from people and Mary Pat got this from going door to door, you know, they'd say, 'Oh gosh, you're Governor Christie's wife? We love him. He's so smart. He's so direct, he's so blunt. We love him. We're voting for Trump. But we love your husband. He's amazing.'"
Christie said he believes his campaign would have been successful if Trump had not entered the race.
"It's incredibly frustrating to think to yourself, 'Wow, if this guy were not in the race, we'd win this thing,'" Christie said, citing internal polling from his campaign. "And I absolutely believe if Trump had not gotten into the race, I think we would have won."
Many speculated that Christie may run for president during the 2012 election, but he declined to do so. In 2016, he launched a campaign for president. He suspended the campaign after finishing 10th in the Iowa Caucus and sixth in the New Hampshire primary. Christie later endorsed Trump.
A Morning Consult poll published earlier this year found that Christie is the most unpopular governor in the United States with an approval rating of only 25 percent among New Jersey voters.
The poll illustrated the downfall of a politician who was once dubbed the most popular Republican in the country — a significant accomplishment for a blue state Republican. Aside from his failed presidential campaign, Christie’s popularity diminished after scandals from Bridgegate to Beachgate.
During the interview, Christie said he was controversial because “I had no interest in being a small bore governor with tiny accomplishments that wouldn't offend, but probably wouldn't impress either. I wanted to be a governor of consequence and do big things.”
He added that he doesn’t have “any major regrets" about his time as governor.
"I did it the way I wanted to do it and I was myself the whole time," Christie said.
Asked about his critics, Christie replied, "They're gonna miss me when I'm gone."
New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) will be sworn in on Jan. 16.
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