This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 13, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: It's Governor Chris Christie's turn. The Republican presidential candidate goes ON THE RECORD. And nothing is off the table including, does he think Donald Trump can be president?
Plus, what's the real story behind his dust up with Senator Rand Paul? Right now Governor Christie ON THE RECORD from the board walk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for coming to New Jersey, Greta. I appreciate it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, I've been to a lot of bars and a lot of candidates. I was with Senator Lindsey Graham in a bar South Carolina, she didn't pull, but I have to tell you, I think you win. I think the beach. I think you win the best bar location.
CHRISTIE: I'm happy to go on that one and being here at the Beachcomber was a great spot. A beautiful spot in New Jersey.
VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed, it is. All right, let's talk top of the news.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a lot of controversy with the emails. You were a United States attorney, prosecutor -- federal prosecutor here back before you were the governor. What is your thought about how this should be investigated or should it be investigated?
CHRISTIE: It has to be investigated. First off, let's remember that David Petraeus was prosecuted for this. Sandy Berger was prosecuted for this and pled guilty to these charges. So we need to investigate it fairly. I'm really glad the FBI is now gotten themselves involved in this. I think it's really important. What we already know is that Secretary Clinton has not told the truth.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you know that?
CHRISTIE: Well, because she has contradicted herself over time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Not a faulty memory?
CHRISTIE: Well, I mean, listen, it's not the truth. Now whether she lied is a different story. But the truth has not been told and hasn't been consistent. The FBI needs to look into this. There's absolutely sufficient evidence to warrant investigation and let's see where it heads. But I think Secretary Clinton has not been forthright. And that's not right for somebody who's been secretary of state in this and now is running for president.
VAN SUSTEREN: Would she even better turnover that e-mail server in the beginning.
CHRISTIE: I said it to my staff at that time. When she first had this problem, I said what she should do right now is turnover the server and let the law enforcement look at it. If she's got nothing to hide, turn the stuff over. She would have been much better off. But, you know, I'm not the manager of her campaign.
But I'll tell you this, it makes people wonder again, and we see this reflect in the public's attitude. I want folks who are watching this program close their eyes and think about what a Hillary Clinton presidency might look like if this is the way she's dealing with this problem. It's not right.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do we know it's not just political opponents going after here? I mean, this is a political year.
CHRISTIE: It is, but this is not a political issue. It's become a political issue because of the way Secretary Clinton has handled it. The fact is if people have questions you should be forthright about it. First off, why did she even have a private e-mail server? And why was she doing all of her business through a private e-mail server?
Greta, I was in the federal government for 7 years as a U.S. attorney. I was not permitted to do work through my private e-mail. I had to do it through my public e-mail. And we had to use that e-mail system and had to be accessible to my bosses at the Justice Department. Why should the standards be any lower for the Secretary of the United States who in fact was to deal with even more confidential and classified information than I was as U.S. attorney.
To make any sense, let's start off with that. What was she up to? And why was she doing that? Now she is not being not transparent at all. In fact, essentially, she is being forced to turn this e-mail server over to the government.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, where you draw the lines in terms of privacy for Americans and quite a dust up at the debate with Senator Rand Paul. You guys have very different views or at least you certainly have a very interesting verbal discussion.
CHRISTIE: Yes, well listen, the problem with Senator Paul is that he has never done this and he does not understand it. When he makes the ridiculous statement that I want to take more information from terrorist not from innocent people, how do you know, Greta? Then he yells go get a search warrant. Well, that's not the way it works.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why can't you get a search warrant?
CHRISTIE: Because if you don't have probable cause, you can't get a search warrant. Let's remember something. We had in pre-9/11, we had folks over here who had no apparent terrorist ties, but we're getting phone calls from people who did have terrorist ties from out of the country. If we had had the NSA program then, we very well could have matched those phone numbers up, that would have then give us probable cause to go after the folks who are here in the country before 9/11.
I don't know if that would have prevented 9/11, but it would have given us a much better chance than the one we had. Senator Paul does not understand this because when you're in Congress, and then this is why the American people have no respect Congress, they don't have to do anything. They're not responsible for anything. I was the U.S. attorney post 9/11. I was responsible for protecting the lives of our citizens.
When you have that responsibility, I'll tell you this, as president of the United States, there's not one step within the law that I wouldn't take to prevent the killing of one American. And that's the difference between me and Senator Paul.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you mentioned Congress. Congress, a lot of gridlock in Congress. If you are president, you've got to work with Congress. And they can be very annoying to a president.
Could you work across the isle with democrats in Congress or even serve the institution of Congress because they seem to be in a log jam.
CHRISTIE: Listen, they can't be any more annoying than the democratic New Jersey legislature which I've been dealing with for six years.
VAN SUSTEREN: So how do you do it?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, you develop personal relationships with these folks. And the fact this was what Ronald Reagan did with Tip O'Neill. And if you look at the personal relationships that I have with folks here in New Jersey, we don't always agree, but we know each other. We know each other well. We spent time with each other. And when we give each other our word, we keep it.
And the Senate president of the state, I know his wife. I know his children. He knows my wife and my children. I know the speaker and his family. This is important to do. And this president has spent no time doing that. That's why there's gridlock in Congress.
Can you imagine that just a few weeks ago it's the first time John Boehner ever rode an Air Force One. It's ridiculous. You know, the president has to develop relationship, personal relationships with these folks. That's what I have done in New Jersey while we've gotten property tax cut done in the state. Why we got ten-year reform done. Why we got pension and benefit reform done with democratic legislature. We cut taxes $2.3 billion through the democratic legislature and we cut spending $2.5 billion.
All of the democratic legislature because we have personal relationships. We don't always agree, but I will do the exact same thing as president of the United States.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you mentioned taxes. You've send a tax pledge. No new taxes if you're the president of the United States. Governor Bush has not signed it.
Do you worry that there maybe kind of, if you become president, that there may be come an instance when you have to raise taxes. Also, the military needs a bigger budget or there are some catastrophe like something here we had to provide from incredible amount of national aide to help the beaches of New Jersey?
CHRISTIE: I am not worried about that because I have done it in New Jersey. I'd veto --
VAN SUSTEREN: But with federal aid. You got all that money --
CHRISTIE: Sure. Well, every state gets federal money. But the point is, we also has spend most of the money we spent in our state is state money. And what we've done in New Jersey is I came in with $11 billion budget deficit on a $29 billion budget. And you know what we did? We said no. We said no to new taxes each and every time. We vetoed five income taxes increases. We vetoed two business tax increases and we've cut spending. We cut spending $2.5 billion, Greta, over where it was eight years ago.
VAN SUSTEREN: So who is unhappy? I mean, who's unhappy if you cut taxes and you cut spending. Somebody has got to be unhappy in the state.
CHRISTIE: Well, a lot of people are not happy because we cut or eliminated over 800 programs. And we have 9,500 fewer employees in state government today than we did the day I became governor.
VAN SUSTEREN: So who is unemployed?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, a lot of state public workers that used to have jobs. No longer have jobs. Now a lot of that was attrition and not lay- offs, but we didn't replace them. We made the government smaller.
And every one of those 800 programs that I cut or eliminated had a constituency. But when you're the leader, when you're the governor, you have to be willing to stand up and say no. Otherwise, we'll have our hand in your pocket every five minutes. And remember, New Jersey before I became governor. 115 tax fee increases in the eight years before I became governor. Since I'd been governor, no tax increases. That's because I made hard choices. It's the same hard choices we have to make in Washington, and I will do the same thing there.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about -- what do you think Governor Bush is not signing? I mean, a lot of the -- all the candidates I think or most of them are signing? Why is Governor Bush backing out?
CHRISTIE: Well, I don't know. You have to ask him. You know, the fact is I have no problem signing it because that's the way I conducted myself as governor for six years. So I know it can happen. So I have no problem with signing it.
I don't know why he is evading it, but he's clearly evading it. And if that means at the back of his mind he's thinking he might want to increase taxes at some point as president, that's something he needs to fully discuss now while he's running for president. Not afterwards when he becomes president.
You know, we can not have a situation like Hillary Clinton where she says she will get back to us in ISIS in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. She won't answer in Keystone Pipeline after she's elected. We need to know now. We bought a bumper sticker 7 years ago hoping change. We can't buy bumper sticker this time that's why I've been detailed and specific, more detailed and specific than any candidate in this race with real plans about the direction I will take America.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, recently you said in an interview with Laura Ingraham Radio that -- correct me if I'm wrong, they want to take another look at the 14th amendment, which had been in effect about 1868. And if you're born here in the United States, you're a citizen.
CHRISTIE: Well, what I said was I think you have to take a look at all of that in the context of immigration reform. If we're going to do complete immigration reform, then everything needs to be looked at and examined through a 21st century lens, not to a 19th century lens. And that's all I was saying that day was to make sure that we evaluate everything based upon the economic conditions of our county and the law enforcement conditions in our country.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you're not looking to repeal the part that you're born here in the United States, necessarily. If you're born here in United States, you're not going to be a citizen under President Christie.
CHRISTIE: I am not looking to repeal it, but what I want is a complete review of everything. And it needs to be considered. Everything needs to be considered. If we're going to make the immigration system that's currently broken work, I mean, not only we have to secure our borders, but we have to figure out what type of legal immigrations that we want to have in this country as well.
I want to continue to have legal immigration. My grandfather was born on the boat between Sicily and the United States, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. And I -- he came here and two generations later, his grandson is running for president of the United States. I want that to continue in this country. But the only way it's going to continue well is if we have an immigration system that everybody supports. And that means everything has got to be on the table for conversation.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. In your speech announcement for president, you said that the United States and the Americans are not angry. Some people say that the reason that Donald Trump has been so popular in the polls so far, and this is very early on I admit it, is that he's taping into some anger with the American voters or at least the GOP voters who are polled.
What do you think about this?
CHRISTIE: Listen, I think they're angry with government. And they're angry with the infectiveness of Congress and the ineffectiveness of this president. But I think the overwhelming feeling that I've detected in America, and I went to 37 states last year, Greta, as chairman of the Republican Governors Association electing 31 Republican governors, was anxiety. I mean, they're worried about their children's future.
Do you know, for the first time, our generation believes that our children, majority of us believe that our children will have a worse life than we had? That's not what should be happening in America. And that's because of failed leadership in the Oval Office, failed leadership in Congress, failed leadership in Washington. We need to bring optimism from the states back, and that's why we need a governor as president.
And I think I'm exactly the kind of tough, straight talking governor that we need to be president of the United States.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think people would say you're tough and straight talking. I got to give you that one.
CHRISTIE: All right.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think there's much dispute on that. But everyone who comes to Washington wants to change things. I mean -- and you talked about failed leadership. Republican democrat, president, everybody comes with high deals and really good ideas, and then what happens?
CHRISTIE: I think what happens is they often get consumed by the city. They get consumed by the city and the attitude in the city. And I think you need a governor who's actually had real success in the state and real authority. And I've had real authority in my state. This is the strongest governorship in America. I've had to make real decisions and tough decisions. Hard choices. People are fed up with handing this over to Congress for them to do and a president who's essentially been an absentee in the Oval Office in terms of leading.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
CHRISTIE: I think he's a professor, Greta. This is not a leader. He is a professor and he likes to pontificate. But leading means really, really hard difficult choices that this president is unwilling to make.
And by the way, his secretary of state is going to be the third Obama term. She is moving further and further left everyday. And she is unwilling to make even hard decisions now. She won't tell us what she wants to do with ISIS. But ISIS was created on her watch. She won't tell us what she'll do on the Keystone Pipeline yet that's been held up on her watch. So, you know, we don't need the same kind of failed leadership in Washington. Hillary Clinton will be a disaster for this country the way Barack Obama has been.
We need a strong, tough governor who can go in there and work with the other side, but also stand strong and make hard choices when they need to be made.
VAN SUSTEREN: ISIS.
VAN SUSTEREN: What are you going to do about ISIS?
CHRISTIE: There's few things. First off, I have a strategy and here it is. We've got to work with the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Saudis and the Emirates. We need to get them the best equipment we can get them from the military perspective. We need to train their folks all the way down to the battalion level. We need to make sure we get more intelligence capability in the middle east to give them the right place to target ISIS, because they're in Syria, they're in Iraq, they're all over the Middle East.
And last we need to give them the air cover along with their Air Force to be able to soften the targets up for them to move in. I don't think right now we need boots on the ground to get ISIS.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
CHRISTIE: Well, because --
VAN SUSTEREN: Because they're winning. ISIS appears -- by most people, think ISIS wins and most Americans, if you look at the polls, want us to do something about ISIS. Then we suggest boots on the ground, then nobody wants to go. Well, not nobody but a significant number do not.
CHRISTIE: Well, remember, I said we don't need them on the ground right now. I think, first, the people in the region, it's their neighborhood, and we don't do well by occupying their neighborhood unless it's absolutely necessary. We saw that in Iraq.
So let's let them fight first. And let's give them the equipment they need and the training they need. The intelligence they need and the air cover they need to be successful. If it turns out that it's not successful, that ISIS continues to advance and win, well, then we have to consider putting American boots on the ground.
VAN SUSTEREN: How long you willing to wait?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, unfortunately, I'm not going to be president for another 17 months or so. So we're going to have to wait at least that long. But once I get in, I give our military time to evaluate what's happened over the last 17 months and then to give me an evaluation of whether they think we're doing well. If we're not, then we'd have to consider boots on the ground then.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I didn't mean to suggest it's an easy issue that I know the answers on it, either. I mean, it's enormously complicated what to do there.
CHRISTIE: It is. And that's why I keep working with our allies. Listen, we have a lot of repair to do on those their relationships. With the way this president has stuck it to the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Emirates, the Jordanians on this Iranian deal, which is a nightmare and the worst thing that I have seen this president do in seven years. We're going to have a lot of rebuilding of those relationships to do. One of the ways to do that is to empower those folks to fight the fight they want to fight, which is against ISIS. They do not want bureaucracy taking over their countries.
And so let's empower them. Let's train them. Let's equip them. And let's give them the intelligence they need. If we do that, let's see how they can bring the fight to ISIS. And if they can bring it well, great. And if they can't, then the American people will have to be there to help defeat this force, because if we don't, they'll come here.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you mentioned President Obama. You're going to get something now that you're probably not going to get from the media often. You're going to get it from me. That hug, that picture. I saw the picture and went and look at it last night, and I'll probably said hug a million times on the air. I thought it a million times. When I look at the picture, that's no hug. So I got to say I'm sorry about the hug.
CHRISTIE: Well, thank you, Greta. I appreciate that. And you know what, it's a hand shake as you can see. And I think that's what civilized people do when someone comes to your state to offer help, you shake their hand and you welcome them which is what I did.
And as I told you before, I want to discuss this. I wouldn't do anything differently than I did that day. I acted as a principal leader for the people of my state who had suffered the worst natural disaster in our state's history and the second worst in American history.
You know, we lost 365,000 homes in 24 hours. We're still rebuilding as you can see here nearly three years later. And so I appreciate the apology. I wouldn't do anything differently. I would welcome the president of the United States no matter what party they are in. But nobody except for Paul Ryan worked harder for Mitt Romney than I did. And our country would be a heck of a lot better off right now if Mitt Romney were president of the United States and I'd be thrilled if he was.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I would say I don't like to get it wrong. And I think at least I have been unfair to you on that so called hug. That's no hug.
CHRISTIE: Thanks. Thanks, Greta. I appreciate it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, governor.
CHRISTIE: Thank you. Thanks for coming in New Jersey.