The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A Conversation with Chris Christie

MR. COSTA: Good morning. I’m Bob Costa, the national political reporter at The Washington Post. Welcome to today’s program. Our guest is former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, two-term Garden State governor, a Republican, a former presidential candidate, former U.S. attorney. He ran President Trump’s transition team for most of 2016. He is also the author of “Let Me Finish,” his memoir of his time as governor and his time alongside President Trump.

Governor Christie, thanks for joining us from your own Jersey Shore [audio distortion].

MR. CHRISTIE: Thank you. Thank you, Bob. Happy to be with you.

MR. COSTA: Governor, you're one of the few people the president listens to on the outside on political matters, and I love this item I saw in the New York Post the other day by Cindy Adams. She said you were at a, quote, "come-to-Jesus meeting" at Bedminster, the president's golf club in Jersey, with President Trump. How did that go, and did the president decide to make any changes with his campaign?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, listen, as you know, Bob, I've always taken a position that the consultations that I have with the president are between me and the president. I can just say this. I think the president is really focused on the next 95 days, really focused on trying to make sure that he lays out his visions to the American people for what he wants the next four years to be, and it's always good for me to have some time to visit with him in Bedminster and discuss things as I see them, from where I sit, and to continue to try to help him articulate the issues that he wants to articulate over the course of the rest of this campaign. And that's all I was attempting to do when we met last week.

MR. COSTA: What's he doing right? What's he doing wrong?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, I think for the most part, in the last week or two, I think his focus on the coronavirus has been good. I think his focus on, you know, encouraging the American people to wear masks, to letting them know that we are going to be in this for a while and we have to remain strong and resolute about it, I think are all things that are very, very important.

And listen. I think the biggest thing he needs to do that he has not been doing as much as I'd like is to articulate a vision for the next four years to contrast with the Biden campaign, which is so far, you know, for those of us on the East Coast, Bob, it is kind of a Seinfeld campaign. You know, it's a campaign about nothing. All it is is a campaign about, you know, don't re-elect Donald Trump, but you don't hear a thing about what Joe Biden really wants to do with the country for the next four years, in any great detail, except for his, you know, 110-page manifesto with Bernie Sanders.

So I think, you know, I listen very carefully, Bob, to the way the Biden campaign is being received, especially by progressives in the Democratic Party, by listening to one of my Sunday show partners, Yvette, and she, this past Sunday, did not sound very happy or trusting about the Biden campaign and what a Biden presidency would look like. And I think those are things that the president has to make sure that he contrasts by being very bold and very direct about what he'll do for the next four years to encourage people to come out and vote.

MR. COSTA: Let's pause on that, Governor. I was with the president in Texas this week. He is not talking about Vice President Biden on the stump, for the most part. He's talking about the racial injustice protests. He's talking about cities like Portland. He's talking about Representative Ocasio-Cortez. Why is he resisting that spotlight on Biden that you're recommending?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, I'm not really recommending a spotlight on Biden, Bob. What I'm saying is that I think the way to spotlight Biden is to talk about what you want to do for the next four years to contrast with the fact that Biden is not talking about much of that at all with any specificity. None of us really know what a Joe Biden presidency will be like because--I mean, I don't even know, is he going to move, if he won, to the White House, out of the basement in Wilmington, or is he just going to stay in the basement in Wilmington? You know, I don't think he's even promised us that yet. Will he actually move or is he too afraid to move?

So, you know, listen. This is a campaign where the president has to lay out his vision, and when he does that, that will force, in my view, Vice President Biden to come out and lay out his. Then you have a binary choice, and when we have a binary choice in this election, that's the kind of election I think Donald Trump can win. He cannot win a referendum election. He can win a binary choice election.

MR. COSTA: Why can't he win a referendum election?

MR. CHRISTIE: I think it's hard for any incumbent to win a referendum election, Bob, especially when you're going through some crises. Now even the Democrats wouldn't blame President Trump for creating the coronavirus. I think even they will back off from that. And the economic crisis that has occurred as a result of the coronavirus, again, not his creation.

But when you have those kinds of twin crises, and then you add onto it the racial unrest in the country, which has been caused, in my view, by two factors, number one the murder of George Floyd and that being an indicator of police misconduct across the country in many places, and two, the coronavirus lockdown. And I think all of the tension and stress and depression that that's caused in the country--and by "depression" I mean mental depression--I think those two things are causing a third crisis.

It's very hard for an incumbent to win a referendum race when there are crises going on in the country. You need a situation on a referendum race like Ronald Reagan had in 1984, where the country, everything was going wonderfully, the country was at peace, prosperity was at unprecedented levels, and then it's a referendum race because the public doesn't even care who the opponent is. They so love the current president. When there's crises going on, that's not what's going to happen.

MR. COSTA: Governor, I know you don't want to talk about the details of that Bedminster meeting, but that scene of you and Jared Kushner and Bill Stepien, your former aide, now the campaign manager, sitting across from President Trump, having a conversation, you have to wonder, as a reporter here, is the candidate on the same page as his own campaign when it comes to all the things you're talking about--messaging, strategy?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, I'm not going to get into--as you said, Bob, I'm not going to get into the specifics, but let me just answer your question since, as a reporter, you are endlessly curious. The answer is yes, he is on the same page with the people who are advising him now, and I think that you'll continue to see that happen over the course of the next 95 days.

MR. COSTA: Most Americans don't know Bill Stepien. You read your book, you call him Step throughout the book. He's been one of your political aides, not current, but one of your aides for years. He's run your gubernatorial races. What is his plan, from your view, of how to jump-start the Trump campaign?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, that's the great thing about Step. I don't think he will see that's his role to jump-start the Trump campaign. I think Step's biggest asset is his work ethic. I've never seen anybody in politics who works as hard as Bill Stepien. And one of the things I said in the aftermath of his appointment was that there will not be a detail that will fall through the cracks with Bill Stepien in charge. He will work 18 hours a day, he will inspire the people around him to work almost as hard, and he will make sure that every detail is attended to.

And one of his big strengths is voter identification and voter turnout, and he, you know, when he was the field director for the Trump campaign in 2016, and I think you saw the results of that in some of those key swing states, where the turnout for Donald Trump was much higher than any poll predicted, any pundit anticipated. And I believe it's because, in large measure, because of the work of Bill Stepien.

So, I think what the president has done is bought himself a point and a half or two in all these key states by having Bill Stepien in charge, by having a real pro in charge of the campaign. And I think the rest of it, though, is going to be up to the candidate, as it always is.

And so, Bill Stepien will not win or lose this race for the president. The president will, but Bill Stepien will give him a much better chance to win because of his hard work, his attention to detail, and the experience he's had in managing Republican races in a blue state like New Jersey. He knows how to go into these swing states and identify the persuadable voters, and expose them to what the president's plans are for the next four years.

MR. COSTA: So, there's a person from 2016 in Bill Stepien, an organization man, now running the campaign. Jared Kushner is there. You are there as an outside advisor. Any chance the president brings back Steve Bannon?

MR. CHRISTIE: I hope not. I don't think Steve would be the least bit productive. I think the role he played in 2016, for having been there the entire time, was overplayed and overblown. I think the people who deserve real credit for 2016 include folks like Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus, Jason Miller, Stephen Miller. Those are the people who, I think, really, along with Jared Kushner, ran that campaign. And I think Steve's gotten more credit, taken more credit, I should say, than he deserves, and boy, I think that would be a very, very bad day for the Trump campaign to have Steve Bannon back in any official or unofficial way.

MR. COSTA: Years ago, Governor, when then candidate Trump was on the ropes for the summer of '16, that's when he turned to Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. He's on the ropes now, according to almost every poll. So, do you see him taking any dramatic action in the coming weeks to bring on someone like Bannon, if not Bannon?

MR. CHRISTIE: I think he did take some dramatic action, Bob. He fired Brad Parscale and he hired Bill Stepien, and that's pretty dramatic action, first off, to change your campaign manager about 115, 120 days out from a general election campaign. And secondly--

[Overlapping speakers]

MR. COSTA: Was [unclear] involved at all?

MR. CHRISTIE: Yeah. I believe he's still doing digital work for the campaign, is my understanding, and still working on the digital aspect, which is the way he came into the campaign, Bob. He was originally just restricted to doing digital work, digital advertising and such, which is, you know, his background, his experience, and he's quite good at it. So, I'm sure he'll continue to do that for the campaign, but now at Bill's direction.

I think, though, he still has Kellyanne Conway there. He has Kellyanne Conway next to him in the White House every day. And I can guarantee you that she is providing him with great advice and providing Bill Stepien with good advice when Bill seeks it. So Kellyanne is still there. She's never left. Really, besides Jared and Stephen Miller, she's the only other original White House person of significance left, other than the president and the vice president.

So, you know, I think Kellyanne has shown her staying power and her value to the president, and she'll continue to show that, both privately, in her consultations with the campaign and the president, and publicly, as I think you'll see her as even more of a public presence on TV as the campaign gets to the point where the public is really paying attention.

MR. COSTA: Speaking of Vice President Pence, has the president or any one close to him every discussed with you in recent weeks the idea of leaving him off the Republican ticket?

MR. CHRISTIE: No, and, Bob, this goes along with, in campaign lore, replacing the vice president, or the vice presidential candidate goes along with a brokered convention. Every four years we talk about it, and the media talks about it with bated breath and anticipation, and it hasn't happened since 1960, and it's not happening now, in terms of a brokered convention, and replacing the vice presidential candidate is not going to happen. The president has great respect for Mike Pence. He's not going to do that.

And, by the way, no one votes for the number two on the ticket anyway, Bob. You're talking about, with a guy like Donald Trump, the ultimate alpha, on the top of the ticket, who is saying, "Oh, no, no. But if he changed from Mike Pence to someone else, then I'd vote for him," thinking that that person was going to have enormous influence on the administration? I don't think so. Donald Trump is in charge. Everybody knows that, and that's why the vice presidential candidate, I think, is not a place where you would want to go change it, for political reasons, and substantively, the vice president has done a very good job. But from what the president has told me, I think the president's asked.

MR. COSTA: So, there's no discussion among Kushner or other top officials about the idea?

MR. CHRISTIE: None that I'm aware of, no, and believe me, I've spoken to the president about it as late as last weekend. You know, he has great respect for the vice president, and they're printing Trump-Pence signs, so, you know, that's moving forward.

MR. COSTA: Has debate prep started?

MR. CHRISTIE: No, not formally it has not. You know, I've been able to have some conversations with the president about it, but it's a little bit too early to start that.

MR. COSTA: You played--well, you're always careful to say you didn't play the role of the antagonist in the debate prep in '16, but you played a counter, let's say, during those informal sessions at Bedminster and elsewhere. Do you expect to have a similar role this time around?

MR. CHRISTIE: If the president asked me to do that I'm happy to help him in any way I can get ready for the debate. So that's going to be up to the president. But as you said before, I continue to be someone who, you know, offers my advice and my counsel to the president, and so I'm certainly ready to be there in whatever role that he may want me to play.

MR. COSTA: In your book, Governor, you talk about the most effective debate prep sessions in '16 were when you and Reince Priebus were the only two talking in the room, so the president could focus on just two people, rather than a whole room of advisors. Is that still your advice to him this time?

MR. CHRISTIE: Absolutely. Listen, you know, it's tough enough for a candidate to get ready for a presidential debate. It's even harder for a president to get ready for a presidential debate because, by the way, he's also running the federal government. And you look back, all the way back to the Gerry Ford 1976, the modern era of presidential debates, from '76 now to 2020. Whenever an incumbent president has been involved, he has never won the first debate, not once.

And so, part of that is because of how difficult it is to prep a president for a debate, get a president to take his mind off of the governing and onto the politics, and get a president to believe that somebody who isn't president could actually beat him in a debate. So those are all challenges that Donald Trump will face, because Barack Obama faced it and lost to Mitt Romney, George W. Bush faced it and lost to John Kerry. You know, Bill Clinton faced it and lost to Bob Dole in that first debate. You go back as far as to Jimmy Carter with Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford with Jimmy Carter. So, it's been a pattern and a pattern that I'm sure the president hopes he is going to be able to break on September 29th.

MR. COSTA: How are the negotiations going with the Commission on Presidential Debates? Is the president committed, at this point, to showing up to all three debates?

MR. CHRISTIE: I think the president would love to have more debates, if they could work out the timing. Because remember something, you know, Bob, a lot of people are going to start voting before September 29th, and the idea that they will not see one presidential debate by then to me seems ridiculous. So, I think we should even move the dates up or add additional debates between the president and the vice president, given the phenomenon of early voting that occurs in so many states.

So, I think you will absolutely see the president on stage for all three of those debates, and quite frankly, I'm sure he would love to have more of them.

MR. COSTA: Is that in discussion right now, having an earlier debate, expanding? Is there actually a chance of that happening? Because usually the CPD is pretty firm with its plan of three presidential plus one vice presidential.

MR. CHRISTIE: Listen, that's up to Bill Stepien and the folks at the campaign to run those negotiations. I'm a bystander in that regard, in terms of negotiations. Those are just my views, given, you know, what I know about the president. And I think the president would want to have more debates rather than less, and sooner rather than later, because of the early voting phenomenon. And I think no one should be able to cast a vote in this country, you know, before hearing a presidential debate, if you're going to have them.

MR. COSTA: The pandemic hovers over this entire campaign. Everybody knows that. Would you advise the president to do more, particularly with the Defense Production Act, at this point?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, I had advised that all the way back in the beginning, in March, to invoke the Defense Production Act earlier than he did on ventilators and on PPE, and also on reagents for testing. I don't know whether we need it right now. The only area where I think we might need it right now is reagents for testing, and whether or not there's enough time to invoke that and to make it meaningful is an open question. I'll leave that to the president and his team to decide. But I think he could have been more aggressive in that regard, and I advised the president of that at the time.

And I think that's one of the things that has displeased the public about the handling of the pandemic. He was very aggressive in terms of banning travel from China, banning travel from Europe. So, with certain aspects of this he was very, very aggressive, and I wish he would have been more aggressive in others.

But, you know, we are where we are now. We have to just continue. I think now the key is to make sure that people understand the risks that are involved and to make sure that they're being smart. We don't need to close the whole country down again, and that would be, to me, a gross overreaction. We need to reopen our country, get the economy going, get people back to work.

You know, unfortunately, Bob, you saw in New Jersey, in the last two months, opioid deaths go up 20 percent over last year. You're seeing domestic violence complaints go up. You're seeing suicide rates go up. Those are all connected to this shutdown, and the shutdown being so complete that it's ruining people's lives, it's ruining their ability to make a living to support their families, to pay their bills.

So, I don't think we need to go back to something like that. We need to reopen, but people need to wear masks, they need to be smart, they need to be washing their hands, they need to be taking the proper precautions to be able to keep themselves safe, and most importantly, we need to shelter vulnerable populations. So, if you have a comorbidity, if you're elderly, then you have to be much more careful than, say, someone in their mid-20s.

MR. COSTA: Should the president be wearing a face covering more frequently, and should he mandate masks nationwide?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, the president has decided not to do national mandates, and to let the governors make their own choices. That is a philosophical judgment he has made. But you hear him now saying that everyone should be wearing a mask, and I think you're going to see the president, when he's out and exposed to people in a larger way during the campaign, I think you'll see the president wearing a mask much more frequently than you've seen him wear it in the past. I don't think he needs to wear it in the White House, Bob--

MR. COSTA: We didn't see that--we didn't see that in Texas this week. I was on the trip.

MR. CHRISTIE: I said more frequently. Not every time, Bob. And the fact is that I think you're not going to see it in the White House, which I do think would be a little bit ridiculous. The president, as I understand it, is tested very frequently. But in the end, you know, setting a good example by wearing a mask would be the right thing to do, and I think the president will do that.

MR. COSTA: Why is it ridiculous? There have been cases inside the White House.

MR. CHRISTIE: He's being tested himself. Remember, a mask is to protect others, not to protect yourself, okay. The mask is not the type of mask that will bar anything from coming in that's out there. So, what you're talking about is the president--if the president is being tested frequently, numerous times, in some instances, as I understand it, numerous times a day, you know, then the likelihood of him having it, Bob, is highly unlikely.

So, the mask, remember, as my friend Andrew Cuomo says, is to--you know, is to protect others, not to protect yourself. If that's the case then the president wearing it inside the White House, I think, would be more for show than anything else. But outside he should be wearing it.

So, let me be clear. I absolutely believe that it's the right example to set to be wearing a mask. And so, you can debate the efficacy of it in certain circumstances, but you can't debate the fact that it sets a good example for the American people.

MR. COSTA: You've had your ups and downs with Jared Kushner over the years, the president's son-in-law and senior advisor. What's your assessment of his handling of the administration's testing strategy?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, I don't know. I mean, is it so that Jared is the person in charge of that? You know, I don't know. I'm not there every day and I can't make that evaluation. I can tell you that I know Jared works really hard at all the things that he's doing for the president every day, but, you know, in terms of judging all that stuff, I'm not there and I'm not in a position to judge, Bob.

MR. COSTA: You've often said, Governor, that the president is not being well served by his staff. You've said this over the years from time to time. What's your grade of Mark Meadows, the new chief of staff, so far?

MR. CHRISTIE: Listen, incomplete, so far. You know, he's really only been there, what, a couple of months now, Bob, and I think, you know, he's still getting, you know, the ropes, getting used to everything, and working with this president up close every day is a much different experience than being one of his supporters on Capitol Hill. I'm sure the chief is learning that now.

So, I think it's how is he going to handle the difficult governing issues and advising the president on those in the midst of a presidential campaign. I don't think that we're going to be able to have a complete grade on Chief of Staff Meadows until probably after the election is over.

MR. COSTA: Well, he's been there since actually earlier in the year. It's been far more than a couple of months.

MR. CHRISTIE: Not really, Bob, because he didn't resign from Congress until, I think it was April or May. So, it's only been a few months. So, let's give him some time to get himself acclimated there and working. And I've had great interaction with him. He's a very bright guy. But I don't think it's fair to judge somebody on what kind of job they're doing, you know, on a minute-by-minute report card. I know the media likes to do that and I understand why--it's interesting--but I'm not going to engage in that.

MR. COSTA: Well, you're the one who's issued grades over the years, not necessarily an explicit grade, but you've certainly been frank over the years with your opinion on chiefs of staff.

MR. CHRISTIE: Sure. Once I become--once I can have a conclusion as to how they did, sure, I've had opinions on his chiefs of staff, and other members of his staff. But that's after I had an opportunity to give a full evaluation. Having been a governor for eight years I understand that you never know quite how good a staffer is after a few months. It's over the length of time that they serve you that you get a much better idea of that. So, I'm not--believe me, I'm not dodging this, Bob. If I had a solid opinion based on fact, I would give it to you. But I'm just not going to, you know, shoot off a grade just for the sake of shooting it off or giving an opinion.

So, once I have an opinion on Mark Meadows call me back. I'll be happy to give it to you. Check in. But right now, I think it's a little bit too soon, as I said, to give him a grade.

MR. COSTA: You are a registered lobbyist now, Governor. Are you personally lobbying the president on any pandemic-related issue?

MR. CHRISTIE: I never have personally lobbied the president on any issue.

MR. COSTA: So how is your lobbying life work now, because you're an outside advisor of sorts but you're also a lobbyist. How does that all work when you're working professionally as both in private practice and as kind of an outside political advisor?

MR. CHRISTIE: What I've advocated for are three New Jersey hospitals, so let's not make it seem like I have some huge lobbying practice because I don't. But I have advocated for two causes that I care deeply about. The first is the three major hospital systems in New Jersey who were under enormous stress at the beginning of this pandemic, with New Jersey being one of the worst states in the country for the pandemic, to make sure that they got the pandemic relief that they deserved. And secondly, for a group of drug abuse treatment centers across the country called CleanSlate, which I've gotten to know through my friend, Patrick Kennedy, and trying to make sure that we keep our eye on the ball on the opioid crisis in this country, and that folks like CleanSlate, who are providing ongoing substance abuse disorder treatment, make sure that they get taken care of as well in this crisis.

So those are my only clients, you know, where I'm talking to about anything regarding the pandemic or any other official lobbying. So, you know, we're not talking about a whole lot and that does not involve anything other than things that I've advocated for across my career and things I've really cared about.

MR. COSTA: You are a former U.S. attorney. You are close friends with Chris Wray, the FBI director. You actually pushed for him to be in the administration. As a former law enforcement official, do you have any alarm, does it give you any pause to see federal agents in U.S. cities in the way the Trump administration is handling it right now?

MR. CHRISTIE: No. What gives me alarm is the fact that mayors and governors in those places have completely abdicated their responsibility to restore order to the streets.

You know, all of us are supportive of peaceful protesting, but that is not what we've seen in so many of these places, in Portland and in other places, where you have people who are destroying private property, destroying public property, and we have to restore order in that instance. And when the mayors and the governors abdicate their responsibility, as they've done in Oregon and in Washington and in other places, then the federal government has an obligation to go in there and do that.

So no, I've got absolutely no qualms about that at all. The thing that does bother me is that these mayors and governors have put politics ahead of law enforcement. That should never happen.

MR. COSTA: Let's go to one of our audience questions, Governor. This is from Alex Hanisch from Virginia. He writes in, "Tucker Carlson or Larry Hogan. What is the future of the Republican Party, or does it have one?"

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, my guess is that Tucker is making too much money to ever go to politics, so I doubt we're going to see Tucker Carlson run for anything.

Larry Hogan is a great governor. He's done an amazing job in Maryland, under very difficult circumstances, first with the riots, that he had to deal with when he first came into office, and now with the pandemic, not to mention his own struggle with cancer, which he survived. And so, Larry Hogan, you know, is a great leader of our party right now. He's chairman of the National Governors Association.

The Republican Party has a huge future, not matter what happens in this election. There's lots of great people involved in the party. And, you know, if the president is reelected, which I hope he is, then we'll have his leadership for the next four years of the party. But if not then there will be a vacuum in the party in terms of leadership--that happens whenever an incumbent president leaves--and we'll see where it goes from there.

MR. COSTA: What about your own future? Any thoughts about running for Senate in New Jersey?

MR. CHRISTIE: No. No. I think you've seen me say this, Bob, before. I have absolutely no interest in being in a legislative body. Not my personality, not the way I like to operate in this business. I'm an executive branch guy. So, the legislative branch can have it, that's fine, but it's not for me.

MR. COSTA: Throughout your book you have this kind of running joke that you don't want to be secretary of labor for President Trump. But if President Trump wins a second term, have you had discussions with him about possibly joining the Cabinet as attorney general?

MR. CHRISTIE: Absolutely no discussions about any jobs in a second term. The president is also a pretty superstitious guy and he would call that bad karma. You remember from reading the book, he didn't like talking about the transition in 2016, because he thought it was bad karma. He certainly is not going to be talking about any Cabinet positions.

And listen. I've been offered seven different jobs in the Trump administration over the course of the last three and a half years, and turned them all down. So, you know, if there's a second term, as always, if the president calls on me to ask me to do something, like he did as chairman of the Opioid Commission, I will always listen, and if I think it's something I feel really drawn to and have a talent to try to help the country, I'll do it. But if I don't, I'm not looking for another title. You know, between governor, U.S. attorney, father, husband, son, I've got plenty of titles, Bob. So, I'm not going to take a job just for a title. If I really believe I can do it I'll do it, and if I have something to contribute. If I don't then I won't.

MR. COSTA: You had some warm words there for your friend, Larry Hogan, Maryland's governor. Are you going to back him in 2024 if he runs, or are you still thinking about your own come-back bid in 2024?

MR. CHRISTIE: Well, I certainly wouldn't foreclose any possibility, right? So, would I consider running? Sure. Absolutely. I'm 57 years old. I still am very involved in political life and public life in this country. I have a lot of opinions about where the country should be headed and how it should be managed. So, I certainly wouldn't discount, you know, me running again in 2024. If I decided not to and Larry decided to run himself, he certainly would be someone, you know, near the top of the list for me to consider supporting in that regard.

But man, I think the election is a good distance off. 2024 is light years away, so who knows what's going to happen? But so, I wouldn't preclude any possibility for me, and I certainly wouldn't preclude supporting Larry either. He's a wonderful guy, a good friend, and a talented public official.

MR. COSTA: And final question. As you think ahead to 2024, whatever you decide to do, when you read your book, some of your former aides--you know their names--were very uneasy about you backing President Trump in 2016, and some of your allies, still, to this day, say it wasn't the right move. Do you have any regret about signing on to the president's campaign and being such a close advisor to him at all? Any regrets?

MR. CHRISTIE: No. No, and here's why. What I concluded, and I said this in the book, that after the South Carolina primary I concluded that no one in that field was going to be able to beat Donald Trump, that Donald Trump was going to be the Republican nominee for president, and that I did not want Hillary Clinton to be president under any circumstances. And so, I felt like it was my job, and, quite frankly, the job of every other Republican, to get behind the choice of our voters.

Listen, I didn't want Donald Trump to be the nominee, Bob. I wanted to be the nominee. So, you know, it was not like I was a, you know, huge Donald Trump fan, at the beginning, but the fact was our voters overwhelmingly--in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina--supported Donald Trump. And so, my job was to go in there, and because of our relationship, having been friends at that point for over 14 years, I wanted to go in and try to help him become a better candidate and a better president.

And so, I have no regrets in bowing to the reality of the voters and to trying to make our candidate the best candidate he could be, so I could prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency, and to make him the best president he could be so that we could improve our country. I think that's what patriots do. And so, I have absolutely no regret at all about that. If I had it to do over again, I would do it exactly the same way.

MR. COSTA: Governor Christie, we'll leave it there. I really appreciate your time, as you take a little break from your family at the shore. And thank you very much.

MR. CHRISTIE: Bob, it's always great to talk to you. I love the Washington Post throw pillow back there. Great product placement, buddy. I'll have to work on getting an ABC pillow for those roundtables with Rahm.

MR. COSTA: I'll look for that on Sunday morning. Governor, thanks again.

MR. CHRISTIE: Thank you.

MR. COSTA: And thank you all for joining us for this conversation. I have been covering Governor Christie since 2009, when he first ran for governor in New Jersey. When I joined The Post in 2014, my first assignment in January 2014, was to go cover him in Trenton when he was dealing with the Bridgegate issue, and I actually stayed at my parents' house. That was my first month at The Washington Post. So, a long history there as a reporter.

On Monday, my colleague, David Ignatius, will interview the CEO of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian, at 11:30 Eastern, and next Wednesday I’ll have a discussion with Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 4:15 Eastern. That’s next Wednesday. He was on the trip I was covering in the pool, with President Trump on Wednesday of this week. If you want to watch those programs with Ignatius or me and Cruz you can head over to and sign up and register for more information and details.

But for now, have a great weekend and we'll see you soon.

[End recorded session.]