Supporters, detractors, experts appraise Christie’s White House chances

 A man holds up a Christie for president sign as he passes a group of protesters after Christie announced that he is running for the Republican nomination for president Tuesday at Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

A man holds up a Christie for president sign as he passes a group of protesters after Christie announced that he is running for the Republican nomination for president Tuesday at Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared himself a candidate for president, several hundred protesters demonstrated outside Livingston High School, the governor’s alma mater.

Christie has gone back on promises to fund public employee pensions and weakened environmental protections, they said.

Others who attended Christie’s event Tuesday said they are solidly in his corner.

“I appreciate the way that he’s been blunt with New Jersey politics,” said Dave Gray of Byram Township. “I think he’s probably our best chance to clean up a system that’s bloated and financially irresponsible.”

And Randolph resident Camille Haynes, who teaches at a school attended by one of Christie’s children, said she’s wishing Christie well on the campaign trail.

“I believe that he can stand up to the bigger unions, and I believe in that,” she said. “I just wish that sometimes he went about it in a little bit nicer of a way.”

Christie’s famous persona and temper figured in other assessments of Christie’s chances against the 13 other Republican contenders for the nomination.

   Video of Gov Chris Christie’s presidential campaign announcement

Seton Hall political science professor Matthew Hale, who said Christie’s tell-it-like-it-is persona will resonate with voters in other states, said the governor must be careful not to cross the line in his encounters with voters.

“A lot of the country really wants someone who is going to be straightforward and honest and maybe a little rough around the edges,” Hale said. “It’s a tough line because telling it like it is is good — until it’s bad news.

“And there’s also a flip side of being a straight talker could be a bully and that’s a fine line he has to walk,” Hale said.

Mike DuHaime, Christie’s campaign strategist, said that forthright quality will serve his candidate well.

“Gov. Christie tells people what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear. And what we’ve found is a lot of people have voted for him over the years even, if they don’t agree with him on everything,” said DuHaime. “They respect the fact that he tells them the truth and deals with them like adults.”

Chris Christie’s first campaign video for his presidential campaign appears below.

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