In Soaring Speech, Christie Won't Rule Out Run

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He’s said over and over (and over again) that he’s not running for president this year, but in front of a sold out audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Gov. Chris Christie chose not be so direct. Instead, the governor of state gave a soaring speech that pointed to the ways bipartisan domestic policy achievements are an essential plank of foreign policy – a framing that would fit nicely should he decide to make the case a governor with 20 months on the job has the experience necessary to lead America on a global stage.

Here, his case in five points about what America needs now, and how neither President Obama nor Republican leaders are delivering: 

1. 30 Years Later, Air Traffic Controllers Matter

Christie opened his speech by referencing his favorite Reagan moment. It was in 1981, when Reagan made good on his threat to fire air traffic controllers if they walked off the job. The “confrontation between a president and a public sector union,” as Christie called it,

And for a governor who’s best known for taking on the state teachers union, including directly taking on individual teachers in viral YouTube videos, Christie made a play that he is the guy who can make the best claim on that legacy.

2. Barack Obama, You’re No Ronald Reagan.

Gov. Christie called Obama “a bystander” whose “failure is our failure.” He also accused Obama of abandoning the transcendent politics that brought him to national attention at the Democratic convention seven years ago. “When did he decide to become one of the “dividers” he spoke of so eloquently in 2004?  There is, of course, a different choice,” Christie said, and waited a beat. “That choice is the way Ronald Reagan led America in the 1980’s.”  

3. Republicans in Congress Are Wrong Too

Christie didn’t just single out President Obama for criticism. He also took aim at the “Congress at war with itself because they are unwilling to leave campaign style politics at the Capitol’s door.” The gridlock has weakened reputation in the world and “made our democracy appear as if we could no longer effectively govern ourselves.”

What’s needed now is leadership, but also compromise. That’s not a talking point you hear among Congressional Re;publicans these days.

In contrast, he pointed to bipartisan deals on pension on reform in New Jersey, that shows “divided government that is working” and called Democratic leaders in the legislature as friends.

4. By the way, Rick Perry’s Wrong Too. 

In his speech, Christie made no mention of any of the Republican presidential candidates and extended no platitudes about any Republican being preferable to President Obama. He also went out of his way to be clear that he has some differences with the current leader in the GOP presidential field, Rick Perry. The Texas governor drew jeers for his defense of a policy to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition in tuition. “I don’t think you have a heart” if you oppose that policy, Perry said in the Republican debate last week. Christie said he disagrees, and opposes “subsidizing” their education. “That is not a heartless position,” he said. “That is a common sense position.”

5. If A=B, and B=C.... 

What the world needs now, Christie said, is Ronald Reagan. His other point, of course, was ‘look how I’m like Ronald Reagan.’

And the audience bit.

At the close of the q&a that followed Christie’s speech, a woman stood and implored Christie to enter the presidential race. The crowed interrupted with nervous laughter, to which she snapped that this was not a joke. “Please sir, we need you,” she said. “Your country needs you to run for president.”

That drew a standing ovation and left Chrisitie visibly moved. He didn’t take the bait, but he didn’t say no either.

That heartfelt message you gave me is not a reason for me to do it. That reason has to reside inside me. I know without ever having met President Reagan that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment to lead our country. And so my answer to you is just this. I thank you for what you are saying and I take it in and listen to every word of it and feeling it too.

It wasn’t as direct a refusal as Christie’s mustered in the past, to say the least. And in this final week of the quarterly fundraising period, after months of Republican debates and straw polls, that’s most certainly not enough of the characteric straight talk from Christie for Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and the rest of the Republican field.  


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Comments [15]


I am only a reluctant ex Jersey Boy as taxes and regulation were killing me and I left the state of my birth in 2005 when Gov. Corzine was taxing accomplishers.

I hope Christie realizes that sometimes we cannot pick the time, as the time picks us.

All Americans need a man like Chris Christie. He is not a god, he is not the Messiah. He is just an authentic person who speaks to the people honestly and respectfully. Moreover, as you may see in his YouTube videos, he will not cower under pressure.

A rare breed in politics today. I pray he and his family accept the challenges and burdens that may befall on them with this run, as indeed, he would be a great President I am sure.

To those that say Christie has no experience to be president, and we shouldn’t fall into the trap as we did with an in-experienced Obama, I see two errors with that:

1. The real possibility the other Republican candidates do not infigurate the base and attract independents to defeat Obama; Christie will do that.

2. Governor or President, both are executive positions. Christie has produced more results than Obama, despite Obama’s greater tenure, and even Perry, while 8 years in office, has not been as much a man of the times in startling leadership results, when considering the opposition party, as Christie has.

Oct. 04 2011 02:58 AM

If you thought that you were up to the task of leading the nation during this troubled time, why would you not step forward immediately? Why would you have to consider and weigh your options? There can certainly be many reasons that could be given; but really are you truly the leader the country needs, if you don't or can't figure it out without a lot of people telling you how important it is that you run?

It may make for good soap-opera politics, but it is not worthy of an American presidential candidate.

Sep. 28 2011 07:27 PM

Seriously, anyone who can not control their weight, obviously can not control anything else. His obesity is a primary reason not to consider him as a serious candidate and a horrible example to our children. Fat is bad, as his health issues prove.

Sep. 28 2011 02:51 PM
clive betters

dumbest country in the universe...........

Sep. 28 2011 01:44 PM
Jim Burchell from Madison, NJ

Why not call Christie on his hypocrisy. He campaigned for the Tea Party Republicans that took over the House of Representatives. He helped give them the power they have used to put a stranglehold on the Congress. He scores points by calling for Congress to fund FEMA relief efforts, but the people he helped put into power prevent that from happening.
Trenton and Washington are two different realities. In Trenton, the Democrats will always compromise to keep government working thus Christie has an opposition willing to compromise. In Washington, Obama's opposition will not compromise, period. The Tea Party Republicans do not believe in the value of government. The dysfunction they create serves their purposes as all of Congress gets blamed, as does Obama. Reagan would not be able to work with these people. Christie is a creature of myth. We need to challenge that myth and the hypocrisy that sustains the Christie persona.

Sep. 28 2011 11:14 AM
Katherine Jackson

Brian, here's a suggestion: how about a program with Frank Rich on the dangers of compromise, consensus, centrism, triangulation, etc? He just wrote a piece for NY Magazine called "In Praise of Extremism." You seem to be touting Christie as an instance of a Republican willing to compromise, as if that is the Holy Grail we've all been searching for. Well, even if Christie is all that Mike Kelly says, whose words as I've said, desperately need to be balanced with a countervailing view, maybe this great emphasis on The Center and on consensus needs examination. Read Frank Rich and see what you think about a show on that very topic. And PLEASE have another show on the darker side of Chris Christie!

Sep. 28 2011 11:05 AM
Katherine Jackson

Good grief, Brian! How about a balanced story about Christie? This is a bloody lovefest. Really, how about BALANCE in this story -- you who have are so high on centrism & compromise. Listen to the comments of callers. We are not falling for this but you are not giving a fair & balanced account of this very complicated, highly flawed man. Mike Kelly obviously has a brief for Christie -- can't we hear a serious, detailed, dissenting view??? What gives? I'm tempted to stop contributing to WNYC.

Sep. 28 2011 10:32 AM

Lots of criticism of Mr. Obama with no mention of how Christie's OWN Republican Party has obstructed our top elected leader every step of the way. Christie makes it sound as though Mr. Obama is sleeping on his desk or cowering under it and making no effort to lead, which is NOT new or interesting rhetoric and NOT TRUE. This is more false and twisted Republican P.R. and more hot air. Christies's simply towing the party line and people are ignorantly eating it up.

Sep. 28 2011 10:32 AM
Mad Mom in NJ

Christie will not run in the 2012 presidential election because he does not want to deal with the dysfunctional congressional Republicans! It works in his favor to wait until 2016 with the hope that by then, most of the wackos will fall out of the party and will be less of a distraction to his own mandates.

Sep. 28 2011 10:31 AM
Ken from Nutley, NJ

I live, work and vote in New Jersey and I have not been won over by Chris Christie, but I like some of things he said at the Reagan Library. Unlike any of the Republican presidential candidates, he's not saying he wants to bring Pres. Obama down; he wants the President to live up to his promises. Is he sincere? I don't know, but he sounds more reasonable and genuinely patriotic than any other Republican.

Sep. 28 2011 10:30 AM
L Scott from NJ

Doesn't Christie have more discretion than any other governor due to NJ law?

Sep. 28 2011 10:28 AM
Ernie from UWS

He's not running. Please move on to the next story of political entertainment that our nation has become fixated with.

Sep. 28 2011 10:21 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Christie for President? Naaaahhhhh...

Leadership and compromise? Mr. Christie's last budget was an example of compromise and renege.

All I hear is another Karl Rove puppetoon who leaked testimony against Menendez during an election in order to keep his job as US Attorney. More feet of clay...

Sep. 28 2011 10:20 AM

from a friend: Governor Chris Christie... I see you are traveling around the country fundraising and not doing any official business. Will you be forgoing your paycheck (chock full of public money) this week? How would governor Christie feel if the state of new jersey paid to send a teacher to a conference in california, but said teacher spent that time going around trying to get another job? He'd be pretty steamed about it I bet.

Sep. 28 2011 10:13 AM
Dion from Texas

Seems as if the Governor is reading Julius Caesar and has gotten to Act 1 Scene 2.

Sep. 28 2011 10:11 AM

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