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Christie coy on joining presidential opioid task force

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TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie played it close to the vest about accepting a position with the White House.

A White House official confirmed to the Associated Press that the governor will work on an opioid task force that will be announced later this week.

Gov. Chris Christie joined New Jersey 101.5's Eric Scott Monday. March 27 for "Ask the Governor" (Louis C. Hochman / Townsquare Media)
Gov. Chris Christie joined New Jersey 101.5’s Eric Scott Monday. March 27 for “Ask the Governor” (Louis C. Hochman / Townsquare Media)

However, when asked about the position during Monday night’s “Ask the Governor” program, Christie said, “We’ll see … I don’t jump any announcements by the President of the United States. If the president has something to announce, he’ll announce it when he wants, and then I can respond if I’m involved in any way.”

Christie said that opioid addiction is a concern he shares with President Trump.

“He has himself had to deal with the issue of addiction in his family, so he understands how difficult it is. He really wants to make a difference in the country in that regard.”

The initial report by the Washington Post about the job said Christie would chair the committee. He has been working informally with Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner about the issue, according to the report.

An early supporter of Trump’s, Christie had been rumored to be considered for several high positions within the Trump administration, including attorney general and vice president.

Kushner, however, was said to have held a grudge against Christie for sentencing his father Charles to two years in prison on tax evasion in 2006, when Christie was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, and influenced Trump towards other candidates.

Kushner told Forbes that he and the governor “decided this election was much bigger than any differences we may have had in the past, and we worked very well together,” and denied pushing Christie or his people out.

The governor has made opioid addiction a major focus of his final months in office and said that he and Trump have discussed the steps he has taken here. Some of those steps include signing legislation creating a five-day limit for first-time opioid prescriptions, and a requirement that insurance cover six months of substance abuse treatment.

“It’s an issue I’m incredibly passionate about since 1995,” Christie said. “Anything I can do to help families that are in desperate straits, young people or older folks who are in the throes of addictions, that’s what we should do and that’s what I am going to try and do.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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