Here's How Chris Christie is Different From Other Presidential Candidates

June 30th 2015

Alex Mierjeski

On Tuesday, second-term New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his presidential candidacy at Livingston High School in the New Jersey town of the same name.

Christie, a Republican, has held his office since 2010, and he now joins 13 others in the ever-growing group of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls. The former U.S. attorney was long believed to be a potential front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination (and some even thought the 2012 nomination), though controversy surrounding politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge involving many of his top aides, among other things, somewhat tarnished his reputation and standing.

Here's where he stands on five issues important to Millennials.

Christie is clear on the value of higher education, but thinks free college is the wrong route.

During an address at Iowa State University earlier in June, Christie floated his idea of "a system where we all need to take personal responsibility to grasp the opportunities in higher education, but also one where we can get a leg up when we need it," he said. But his concept of "personal responsibility" is far from the "typical liberal approach" of debt-free college, a concept that has been gaining some traction in the U.S. recently.

"It's not just about making higher education free. That is a typical liberal approach. It is wrong. And we know it," he said. "There are always costs involved, and if college graduates are going to reap the greater economic rewards and opportunities of earning a degree, then it seems fair for them to support the cost of the education they're receiving. Earning a degree should actually involve earning it."

As for how students should pay for college, Christie called for Congress to prioritize spending on and expansion of education programs like the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant and Perkins Loans. He also proposed tax credits to private sector loaners and implementing a deferred, income-based system of debt repayment. He thinks reforms could restructure what he acknowledged as a system that supports money-hungry schools.

"Some colleges are drunk on cash an embarking on crazy spending binges, just because they known they can get huge revenues from tuition. We have million-dollar-plus salaries for education administrators and millions more being poured into unnecessary college bureaucracy," he said.

Christie is unabashedly against marijuana.

Earlier this month, Christie said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that if he were elected president, he would end legal marijuana in Washington and Colorado and use federal law to prosecute use of the drug in states with legalization regimes.

"I think there's probably a lot of people in Colorado who are not too thrilled with what's going on there right now," he said. "You know the way you win any state? You go out and you tell people the truth and you lay out your ideas. Any you either win or lose. But I don't believe that people just want to be told what they want to hear. I believe they want to be told the truth as the person who's running sees it."

Christie has made similar promises in the recent past, maintaining the stance that "marijuana is a gateway drug" and that legalization decreases residents' quality of life. Last year, he complained that in Colorado, "there are head shops popping up on every corner, and people flying into [the] airport just to get high. To me, it's not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey. I think legalizing marijuana is the wrong thing to do from a societal perspective, from a governmental perspective," he said in a radio interview last year.

Christie also favors treatment plans as opposed to incarceration for drug-related crimes, saying on "Face the Nation" that "we know how to help people, so let's do it. Let's stop spending money on incarcerating non-violent people because they're drug-addicted."

A border fence is not the only solution to immigration.

Speaking at an economic summit in Florida earlier this month, Christie pushed back against the idea that building a snaking border fence to keep out illegal immigrants was enough to solve the problem.

Rather, he thinks that the job source needs to be cut off and that individual businesses might do better to implement an online work status and eligibility verification system that uses Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration data. "We have to put the onus on employers," he said at the time, according to US News.

Christie has yet to flesh out a plan for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., but said he would make his plan clearer this month. His approach is markedly different from other GOP candidates bent on building a wall, but he also pushed back against President Obama's executive order protecting millions of immigrants from deportation. According to the New York Times, he also let undocumented immigrants pay in-state college costs if they had graduated high school in New Jersey and were residents for three years.

Climate change is real, but the degree to which humans contribute is questionable.

In May, Christie said that he thinks climate change is real, but he also said that while humans contribute to it, how much they contribute to it was still open to questioning, according to MSNBC.

"I think global warming is real. I don't think that's deniable," he said. "And I do think human activity contributes to it."

It's a stance he has maintained in previous years, ThinkProgress reports, but one he has been reluctant to act on in his years in office. In May, he said that the U.S. "can't be acting unilaterally [on climate change]...when folks in China are doing things to the environment that we would never be done in our country [sic]...There's no use in denying global warming exists. The question is what we do to deal with it."

According to ThinkProgress, New Jersey does not have a statewide climate change plan, nor is it in the process of developing one, making it unique among states on the eastern seaboard.

Christie reluctantly says he will uphold the law of the land on same-sex marriage.

In the wake of last week's landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in 50 states, Christie voiced his disapproval, saying that he sided with the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts. "I think this is something that should be decided by the people of the state and not imposed upon them by a group of lawyers siting in black robes at the Supreme Court," he said. He added that having taken an oath, he would uphold the law of the land on same-sex marriage, just as he had in the wake of his own state's supreme court decision.

Christie has a record of opposing gay marriage, though he has not fought it on any legal level in his own state, nor does he appear to plan to push back at the national level.