New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he can remain friends with the Bush family and run against Jeb Bush should he decide to enter the Republican presidential race. "I don't think it means it has to end a relationship between me and Jeb or me and the president and Laura," Christie said during his monthly "Ask the Governor" appearance on a New Jersey radio station.
Pressed about renewed rumblings this week that he will soon jump into the 2016 contest, Christie joked, "What did I do? I didn't do anything. I don't understand what you're talking about. I gave a 'State of the State' speech."
Christie insisted he has not yet decided about his future. "What I have told everybody, supporters of mine, potential donors of mine, staff, is relax. No one is voting for another 12½ months."
Christie said he will not be rushed, "so everybody just calm down."
Given such an open field for both parties, Christie said Republicans would be well served by a competitive and large field of candidates. "If it's a smart, respectful, substantive debate, that's good for the party," he said.
While other candidates are locking up donors and campaign operatives, Christie said their actions will not force his hand. "The entry or withdrawal of any one particular candidate, or a number of them, will not determine what I do," he said.
Amid reports that Christie may launch a political action committee as early as this month to fund his political activities and travel, he said only, "There's a whole bunch of options on the table, but I haven't made any final decisions about what to do."
Christie will travel to Iowa on Friday to attend the inauguration of Gov. Terry Branstad. Wednesday, Christie was on hand for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's swearing-in and said he did no fundraising in that critical early primary state.
Christie will complete his duties as the outgoing chairman of the Republican Governors Association on Wednesday when he attends the final inauguration of the season for Maryland Gov.-elect Larry Hogan.
Christie brushed off suggestions that his heavy travel schedule harms his ability to serve as governor. He referred to his many electronic devices and even in-flight wireless access to email, saying: "This is not the 1800s. It's not even the 1970s. We're in touch all the time, and my ability to communicate with folks is unimpeded."
Prompted by the interviewer, Christie knocked his vocal critics, labeling them the "same partisan hacks who wake up every morning waiting to criticize me." While he insisted that attacks don't get under his skin, he also said, "Anybody who tells you they like criticism is lying."
Customary for this monthly radio show, callers often ask Christie about state issues or individual concerns. Thursday night those included the length of time New Jersey takes to grant nursing licenses, which Christie called "unacceptable," while another caller reported that a local car wash was depriving the state of revenue by promoting no sales tax for cash purchases. Christie thanked him for the tip and joked, "I think as governor, I have to be opposed to that."