LIVINGSTON (New Jersey) • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has launched his presidential campaign, seeking respect rather than love from Americans and promising to speak bluntly as he battles for the Republican nomination.
The bombastic politician said on Tuesday his intent was to present voters with a dose of "truth about the problems we have" in the US.
"I don't seek the presidency for any other reason than because I believe in my heart that I am ready to work with you to restore America to its rightful place in the world, and to restore the American dream," Mr Christie told a crowd in Livingston, where he grew up.
The 52-year-old father of four has a larger-than-life personality that endeared him to voters, especially when he fiercely stood up for residents affected by Hurricane Sandy, which caused unprecedented damage in New Jersey in 2012.
But he has to overcome the scandal which followed revelations that senior aides ordered the closure of some lanes of the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey, possibly as retribution against a mayor who did not endorse him.
He polls in the lower half of the Republican field and New Jersey residents disapprove of his job performance by 56 to 38 per cent, said Quinnipiac University Poll's Mr Maurice Carroll.
He faces a field of 14 Republican candidates, with two more expected to enter the fray this month.
Also on Tuesday, one of the leading contenders, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, released 1,150 documents covering 33 years of tax records that traced his path to a net worth of between US$19 million (S$26 million) and US$22 million.
It is the largest such disclosure by a presidential candidate and will pressure his rivals to open their financial books.
Mr Bush's recent earnings are from a consulting firm and a partnership focused on growth-capital investments, and an average of US$1.1 million a year from speeches.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS