New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says sweeping changes to surveillance laws that will eliminate the National Security Agency's disputed bulk phone-records collection program will make the country less safe.

The potential Republican presidential contender blasted the changes as he kicked off his first town hall event in the early-voting state of South Carolina Wednesday morning.

The changes approved by Congress Tuesday will overhaul the program by keeping records in phone companies' hands.

But Christie, who has been touting his experience as U.S. attorney in New Jersey before he was governor, says national security shouldn't be put in phone companies' hands.

He also reiterated his call for enhanced intelligence collection.

South Carolina is host of the first-in-the-South presidential primary.

Christie says he'll make a decision about whether he's running this month.