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Story highlights

The New Jersey governor was asked in New Hampshire about transgender bathrooms

Christie segues into an answer that brought up terrorism as one of the reasons kids are confused

Hollis, New Hampshire CNN —  

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cited his broad concerns about the confusion terrorism is causing for the nation’s children Monday while answering a question about which bathrooms transgender children should be allowed to use.

Claudia Reott, a California woman, asked Christie about a California law “which means that children from K-12 can use any bathroom that they choose, at the time, if they feel like they’re a girl, if they feel like they’re a boy.”

Christie responded by joking that life is simpler in New Jersey, “Men go to men’s rooms, women go to women’s rooms and there really shouldn’t be a whole lot of confusion about that – public accommodations. And I don’t think we should be making life more confusing for our children.”

He quickly pivoted to his bigger concern that terrorism is making growing up too confusing for children.

“Life is confusing enough right now for our children,” Christie said. “Think about those kids in Los Angeles who last week had their entire district closed because of a threat. Think about what they felt like the next day when they went back to school. Did they feel completely comfortable, did they feel like they were safe? How did their mothers and fathers feel when they sent them to school that day? And now today the Nashua schools are closed, based on a threat as well. How are those kids going to feel when they go back to school?”

He then cited the San Bernardino attacks as proof that “every place in America is a potential target for terrorism” before coming back to his broader point that “children learn better, grow up better, mature better when they live in a safe and secure and loving environment.”

“The fact though is that we want our kids not to have to decide which bathroom they get to go in. And not to be subject to peer pressure about which one to go in. And not to be subject to the embarrassment that could come with going in a bathroom where somebody maybe doesn’t agree that they should be in there or not,” Christie said.

“Why do we do this to our children? It doesn’t make any sense. So I don’t know. I’m the common sense guy from New Jersey, you know, I don’t think life needs to be this complicated. I think it needs to be a lot more straightforward.”

Christie has often veered away from social issues on the campaign trail, opting more for any chance to talk about his experience as a governor, federal prosecutor and officials dealing with national security. But he has occasionally weighed in on hot-button issues, like this past August when he vetoed a state measure that would have made it easier for transgender people to change their name and gender identification on their birth certificates.

Conservatives in California are continuing their fight against a 2013 state law allowing transgendered children to use public school bathrooms – leading an effort to repeal the law through a referendum vote in 2016.

Reott, a 70-year-old grandmother from Chino Hills, California, was visiting her daughter in Hollis and eager to ask Christie about the bill in California.

“I’ve been really worried about this bathroom bill that we have in California and he really put it to rest for me that I don’t think he’s going to let it pass at the federal level at least,” she told CNN. “I don’t want my grandchildren having to think about, they’re in high school and having boys decide that day that they’re going to go into the girls’ gym, because they just have a feeling that they want to do it that day.”