Chris Christie is sad, heartbroken even. He's also sorry, but he's not a bully.
At least, that's what the Republican New Jersey governor said during a two-hour press conference on Thursday in Trenton, NJ. After a bridge-closure scandal prompted a lengthy apology from Christie, he told reporters that he had no prior knowledge that a now-fired aide was allegedly seeking revenge against a Democratic mayor who did not endorse the governor for re-election.
Though Christie became slightly more defensive during the nearly two hours he addressed the media, he adopted a tone many Americans are not used to. He was humble and remorseful about an event that he apparently had no idea was even going to take place, and said he was humiliated by the incident.
But, he said, the press conference had nothing to do with his potential candidacy for president in 2016 (while he is flattered that his name would even come up).
“This is not the tone I've taken in this office during the past four years,” said Christie. “I am not a focus-group-tested, blow-dried candidate.”
Despite a more somber tone, Christie did not mince his words. He said he was “stunned by the abject stupidity shown here, regardless of what the facts ultimately uncover.”
Christie seemed adamant in trying to clear up any perception that he might have had a vendetta against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich – the alleged target of team Christie's bridge closure – and even said he plans to go to Fort Lee to Sokolich's office, seeking forgiveness. The governor also stressed his record of bipartisanship.
How much Christie knew about the “traffic study,” if anything at all, remains to be seen, but on Thursday, his message was clear: He's sorry, he's willing to accept responsibility for his former aide's actions, and, despite his magnanimous apology, 2016 isn't a blip on his radar.