In a video posted online this weekend, he talked about his family against a montage of shots from the town hall sessions that have earned him his reputation for plain talk. To supporters, he is honest and blunt. Detractors see him as a bully.
In Christie's video, white letters against a black background read simply: "Telling it like it is."
Christie will be the 14th Republican to enter the race for the nomination ahead of the November 2016 election, and he will face a difficult challenge regaining his former status near the top of the heap.
With his image badly damaged by the "Bridgegate" lane closure scandal, he has seen his standing in national polls in the Republican race dip to the low single digits.
Read MoreChristie 'tells it like it is' with 2016 website
Conservatives have been suspicious of his record of working at times with Democrats in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, and still resent his hug and warm words for President Barack Obama after superstorm Sandy in the final days of the 2012 presidential race.
But Christie has won praise for his ability to connect with voters in person, and he recently won a victory in a fight with unions over the state's pension system.
He has cultivated his in-your-face image, once telling a heckler to "sit down and shut up" and getting into frequent shouting matches with New Jersey residents who challenge him.
He is expected to concentrate his campaign on the early voting state of New Hampshire, which has a long tradition of the town hall sessions that have been a staple of Christie's tenure in New Jersey.