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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Eun Kyung Kim

Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor once considered a rising Republican star, entered a packed field of presidential candidates Tuesday, telling TODAY's Matt Lauer he's the only one among them who has on-the-job experience working with both parties.

“I think what sets me apart is the state where I come from. I mean, this is hand-to-hand combat every day,” Christie told Lauer in an exclusive interview. “And it's a Democratic legislature who's fighting you all the time, who you have to learn how to bring in and to craft compromise. And in red states, they don't have a lot of experience doing that, Matt. I know how to do that.”

WATCH: Chris Christie's wife, in April interview, explains how a campaign would impact their family

Christie became the 14th Republican to enter the party’s race for the White House. He entered as an underdog, tainted by a traffic scandal involving previous aides and overshadowed by other candidates, including former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to announce his bid soon.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks to TODAY's Matt Lauer about running for president in 2016.TODAY

Christie insisted his political experience and characteristic brash style will help set himself apart from the numerous other candidates.

"I think they think all too often politicians just tell them the version of the truth they think will sell that day," he said. "I've never been accused of that. So I'm gonna tell the truth as I see it."

Follow TODAY.com writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.