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Gov. Chris Christie: Experience is needed in the White House

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 24, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, 'SPECIAL REPORT,' HOST: The renewed focus on and fears about terrorism are becoming a big issue in the 2016 race for president. Tonight, I'm joined by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to talk about the terror threat along with several other issues facing candidates.

Governor, thanks for being here.

Happy to be here, Bret.

BAIER: So, today, you have this Turkish shoot-down of a Russian pilot, Russian jet along the border there with Syria and Turkey. If it's President Christie, what are you doing?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first off, you're speaking to our allies, to the Turks, getting all the information you can on exactly what happened. What the circumstances were. And you need to continue to support our allies.

I mean, if in fact the facts are true, that they were warned many times, the Russians were warned many times and they went into Turkish air space, well, then, this is what has to happen. And the Russians need to understand if you're going to operate in that part of the world, you have to operate in way that's cooperative and not in the way that's provocative.

BAIER: This is, though, like three-dimensional chess. And now you have a lot of players and they all have their own motives.

CHRISTIE: No question. This is complicated stuff. But that's why you need someone who is experienced, Bret. You don't need somebody who's just been, you know, blowing hot air about this in a subcommittee on Capitol Hill. You need somebody's experience in making decisions, building relationships in the way that you do as a governor when you're in an executive position.

BAIER: Pointing to senators in this race, I assume?

CHRISTIE: Yes, sir.

BAIER: Well, here's what Marco Rubio said today about his experience on foreign policy on these issues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the president was calling ISIS the J.V. team, I was warning that this group was a very dangerous group. They had the capability to grow rapidly. Not just in these debates and during this campaign but over the last four and a half years, I have shown better judgment and better understanding of these issues quite frankly and with all due respect than anyone else running for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Your reaction?

CHRISTIE: You know, he hasn't made any decisions. You know, it's all well and good to be sitting on Capitol Hill, to be giving opinions, because there's no consequence to those opinions, ever, when you are up there.

When you are the executive, there's consequences to every decision you make. You're held accountable for every decision you make. And you have to make those decisions in light of that and not flinch from them. You don't need to run when the weather gets hot, on Capitol Hill or at the White House or in a foreign capital, you can't go running. You got to stick. And you got to stick by the decisions you've made.

BAIER: You were the head of the RGA and going into this race, it was the presumed thought that governors were going to run the roost. They were going to be the best-positioned to be the nominee.

If you look at it, Governor Perry dropped out, Governor Walker dropped out, Governor Jindal dropped out. If we look at the "Real Clear Politics" average of polls, you know, you're standing at 3 percent. You have Governor Kasich behind you at 2.8 percent. Governor Bush at 5.5 percent.

What do you think is happening with governors? And why is it not taking off for governors?

CHRISTIE: I don't think it's about governors. I think it's that the public is really angry with government in general. And so anybody at the moment who is associated with government was getting hit in that way. And underperforming what people thought they might have performed. But I think as we get closer to people actually voting, especially in the aftermath of these attacks, new seems nice until you need experience.

And we need experience and we need someone who's experienced in making these decisions, who has fought against terrorism by making decisions, not just talking about it and debating on the floor of somebody. And I think they're going to turn to those folks and I think I'm the person they're going to turn to.

BAIER: Your sense of the president and how he's reacted to the Paris attacks, first in Turkey, and then today, standing next to Francois Hollande.

CHRISTIE: Listen, the president was a petulant child in Turkey. You know, there are legitimate concerns being raised about the Syrian refugee crisis. And I'm one of the folks who's raised them. When the FBI director says that he can't effectively vet these people. That should be the end of the conversation.

BAIER: He cited today that Francois Hollande is going to take at least 30,000 Syrian -- additional Syrian refugees over the next two years. Saying that the U.S. needs to step up as well.

You disagree?

CHRISTIE: I do. I disagree, because we cannot effectively vet these folks. And until we can, the president of the United States' first obligation is national security. The safety and security of the American people.

BAIER: So when Francois Hollande comes in and says, you know what, I really like you to get to work with Russia because we think that could be a good coalition against ISIS. You would say no?

CHRISTIE: I would say Mr. President, show me some objective indication that they have an interest in that and then I'm happy to listen. But until that time, there's no objective, no objective evidence that they're interested in fighting ISIS. They're interested in being in Syria to prop up Assad, who is always been their ally and who they want to remain in place in power as their ally regardless of his murderous conduct as a dictator in Syria.

BAIER: You have been told that you were going to be the U.S. attorney prior to 9/11.

CHRISTIE: September 10th.

BAIER: So you, kind of -- obviously, were aware of what was going on during that time.

CHRISTIE: Oh yes.

BAIER: I heard you the other day in this whole back and forth about Donald Trump when he said thousands and thousands of Muslims were cheering in Jersey City. I heard you say you didn't remember.

CHRISTIE: I don't recall that. I don't recall it happening.

BAIER: It didn't happen?

CHRISTIE: I don't think it did, no. I mean, listen, it was a very emotional day for me, Bret, so the only proviso I was giving on Sunday was my wife and my brother were within two and five blocks of the World Trade Center that day. And it went hours and hours before I could find either one of them. So it was an emotional day for me on a personal level and we lost a number of friends that day. But as I said before, if that had happened, I'd recall it and I don't.

BAIER: So other campaigns think that, you know, you're obviously aggressive, you're a brawler when it comes to politics. But they think that you're holding back when it comes to Donald Trump. Are you?

CHRISTIE: No. Not at all. When I disagreed with Donald and I've talked about it many times. If we have disagreements, I disagree. And I have disagreed publicly and I just disagreed now, you know. And I did that on Sunday. I said I just don't recall that happening. I don't. And so I don't think it did.

BAIER: Alex P. Keaton, something tells me that's not his name. I'm not sure. But does Chris Christie have a strategy to beat Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire? Does he think anyone can catch the Donald?

CHRISTIE: Sure. And my strategy is the same one I've had all along in New Hampshire. I spent more days in New Hampshire than any other candidate by far. There are more town hall meetings in New Hampshire than anybody by far. And everyone is starting to see that that's catching on now. That work takes some time.

You're building a foundation of support of people who are not just going to answer a poll, but would actually come out and vote and get their neighbors and friends to come out and vote. That's the way New Hampshire has always been won, Bret, and that's the way it will be won this time.

BAIER: The New York Times, which is a paper that doesn't give you a lot of great ink --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: You're the understatement of the cycle.

BAIER: Yes - said about New Hampshire, "For the first time, a solid majority of Republican voters in the state of New Hampshire have a favorable view of the governor. According to two polls, a remarkable turnaround from the depths of his unpopularity."

So what has happened? Is it just time?

CHRISTIE: Hard work. Hard work and being clear and specific on the issues. Our campaign has been more detailed than any other campaign. You go to our Web site. We have more detailed proposals. We speak about them in-depth. And when I do town hall meetings, there are no pre-canned questions.

I stand there for two hours and take questions on any topic from any comer. And I think that the people in New Hampshire are starting to notice that they've got somebody on their hands who is willing to take any question, willing to decide and lead and we're starting to create momentum there.

BAIER: Republicans in New Hampshire are giving you another look, it seems. But what about Republicans in New Jersey? Why shouldn't people look to Republicans in New Jersey, who know you best, and say, that's really the people we should be talking about.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, folks in New Jersey re-elected me with 61 percent of the vote in 2013. And since that time I ran the RGA, and now I'm running for president.

BAIER: So they're mad?

CHRISTIE: Yes. Listen, whenever you are looking for a new job and you've got one, people always get a little miffed. You know, I'm sure here at Fox, if you were going to interview at some other network, they wouldn't be thrilled about it, of course not.

But that means, I think there would be a little bit of a lowering of your popularity, let's say at Fox. I think that's what's happened in New Jersey. But in the end, when they really had to decide, the opportunity to decide, my fate, 61 percent of all voters in New Jersey re-elected me in office and I think that's the thing that really matters.

BAIER: But when you look at the economy and I ask you this in the first debate and you look at the performance of New Jersey, if people look at that in just a microcosm, why would they say that you are best positioned to run the economy of the U.S.?

CHRISTIE: Because I took an economy that was literally moribund and now has created 220,000 new private-sector jobs.

Last month, New Jersey created more jobs than any other state in the union. Our jobless claims are the lowest they've been in 15 years and our unemployment rate is down to 5.4 percent, which is the lowest it's been since 2008 before I got to office.

So the fact is that we've brought that economy back. Now still we have enormous headwinds. Taxes are too high and a Democratic legislature won't lower them. That's the one place we haven't been able to find bipartisan agreement. But, you know, the fact is that the economy is much better in New Jersey than it was when I got there six years ago.

BAIER: Gun control, is it true that the issue of gun control inspired you to get into politics?

CHRISTIE: No. That's not true. No.

BAIER: Well, in 1993, you said you were motivated to run for office by supporting, preserving New Jersey's assault weapons ban.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: You know, I don't remember saying that so, you know, we'll see.

BAIER: "The issue which has motivated me to get into this race is the recent attempt by certain Republican legislators to repeal New Jersey's ban on assault weapons." That was in 1993.

CHRISTIE: That's 22 years ago?

BAIER: Yes.

CHRISTIE: Bret, I don't remember. I could have. It doesn't sound like me.

BAIER: You think the "Star-Ledger" is wrong?

CHRISTIE: I know it's never been before. (INAUDIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

BAIER: All right, well, let me turn it this way. If you don't think that motivated you like you said.

CHRISTIE: No.

BAIER: .apparently back then --

CHRISTIE: No, I don't think it did. I know it.

BAIER: Where are you now?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, my record is really clear on this in New Jersey. We have taken a lot of steps to make sure that gun rights are protected in New Jersey. I vetoed a decrease in the magazine from 15 to 10. We vetoed a ban on the 50-caliber rifle. We vetoed a state-wide I.D. card in New Jersey, all because it didn't increase safety.

BAIER: Politics, we showed the poll earlier. You put a lot of chips in New Hampshire. Spent a lot of time there. Do you have to come in one, two, three in New Hampshire for this campaign to continue?

CHRISTIE: I have to do well. I mean, let's see -- let's see where --

BAIER: One, two, three?

CHRISTIE: I don't know, Bret. Let's see where we are in January. It's kind of hard to tell now. Let's see -- you know, have me back in January, and then you can ask me one, two, three and I promise you I'll answer.

BAIER: Sounds good.

CHRISTIE: All right?

BAIER: Governor, thanks.

CHRISTIE: Thank you, Bret.

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