Christie Makes the National Case for His NJ Politics

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer ShowMike Kelly, columnist at The Record of New Jersey, talks about NJ Gov. Chris Christie's speech last night at the Reagan Library. 

Is he or isn’t he?

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave a speech last night at the Ronald Reagan library in California, whipping up the hopes of those Republicans and Independents who consider Christie to be their dream candidate.

Christie began with his favorite Reagan moment: the air traffic controllers strike. Christie linked Reagan’s intolerance of dissent domestically to a toughness in international policy to having some global credibility. Kelly said while that seemed a strange way to start, Christie may have been sending a message to New Jersey.

To compare the Reagan decision over the air traffic controllers to the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain is just flat-out naïve. But I think what Christie was really doing there was he was sending a message back to New Jersey, which was “hey look, I’m going to fight the unions” because that’s where his battles have really been.

From there Christie used his speech to make the case that New Jersey politics should serve as a model for America, calling the state a place where divided politics is still functional politics. For a potential Republican candidate—one who would have to run in the primaries if he were to enter—it seems remarkable for Christie to have spoken so much about compromise, but Kelly thinks that message was focusing on a general election strategy.

 This is the great mystery with Christie, he seems to be the reluctant suitor. He keeps saying, you know, “I want to have a relationship with you, I want to have a relationship with you” and he saying all the right things, but really when it comes down to commitment he keeps backing off.

A recent comment in the New York Times quotes a close associate of the Governor as noting that Christie keeps saying no, but the window for deciding to enter the primaries is still open. Kelly said it’s the first time the Christie camp has indicated that they are weighing their options. Christie’s remark seemed to give notice to the New Jersey Democratic-dominated Congressional delegation that he may be looking to mount a Republican takeover. Yet the even bigger picture, Kelly said, was Christie’s accusation that President Obama was failing to lead.

Those are loaded statements. I think one needs to take them very, very seriously because Christie is essentially saying, “Listen, I want to be part of the national conversation.” The question is, where is that conversation going to take him?


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Comments [32]

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 ou 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 07:23 PM
KSB from NJ

Christie may have capped taxes but it hasn't changed a thing. Our house was reassessed lower, but the tax rates went up, and therefore so did our property tax.

Remember when he took the helicopter ride to his son's sporting event then tried to explain it away? Was there any consideration for taxpayer dollars? He's just another self righteous executive.

Sep. 28 2011 03:01 PM
Scott from Westchester

I agree with David. What was with the references of comparing air traffic controllers to Stalin? Certainly the speech quote you played did not evoke that at all. Maybe you played the wrong quote. But what I heard was that the air traffic controllers actions demonstrated Reagan's willingness to act decisively against powerful interests rather than to work for cooperation. Whether that did in fact help in his dealings with the Soviet Union may be a debatable point, but it does seem to be the point he was making, rather than trying to equate air traffic controllers with Stalin.

Sep. 28 2011 11:22 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Leadership and compromise....Those words coming out of our governer's mouth as knocks against Obama are laughable.

It is not in the interest of the GOP for Mr. Obama to display strong leadership. The GOP in general and TP'ers in particular spend a lot of energy attempting to convince themselves that Mr. Obama's citizenship and position are not legitimate, i.e. they give themselves rationales for behaving so disrespectfully.

Compromise! The entire GOP Senate has been an exercise in obstruction. The media reports on it but the treasonous impact of the obstruction appears to be lost on the electorate.

I consider Christie to be little more than just another Karl Rove puppetoon. Otherwise, how did he keep his US Attorney job when so many others were losing theirs for failing to toe the political line?

Sep. 28 2011 11:01 AM

Brian, you've never looked worse in any segment. Even your retort to the last caller was beyond lame. You're using a look of words, but little in the way of facts as to what Christie has actually done. So sad.

Sep. 28 2011 10:32 AM
Edward from NJ

Christie double-crossed the legislature. He got them to compromise on public worker benefits and then tore up their budget a few days later.

Sep. 28 2011 10:29 AM
Nick from UWS

Listen to what this caller says and learn something, WNYC.

Sep. 28 2011 10:29 AM
RA from CT

By all accounts, Obama was willing to make a Grand Bargain with Boehner which included Social Security and Medicare, but Boehner wouldn't or couldn't make that bargain.

Boehner wouldn't be a partner the way that Tip O'Neil was Reagan's partner to solve the big problems.

The President needs Congress to pass whatever legisilation he proposes; he can't issue executive orders on everything. Obama has no partner because the GOP wants the country to continue to fail so their party can retake the Presidency! The GOP has failed this country for the past 4 years because they want power rather than to solve problems!

Sep. 28 2011 10:28 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ superf88 - While there are admirable qualities to Christie, I think many of his policies and decisions have been poor.

I do agree with you that NJ needs municipality consolidation, which is not a left/right issue, but one of effectiveness. That means that ALL NJ-state stakeholders ("everyone") is going to have to come on-board with that. Difficult but necessary.

@ hjs - Don't I know it and curse his foolish, lack-of-vision decision every day that I ride NJ Transit trains (often late) into Penn Station. Total loss of productivity (and money).

Also, Christie compromised on budget matters like a bulldozer, but, hey, people like it and the YouTube videos.

(By the way, having lived in both NYC and NJ for years, among many other places, I can honestly say that NJ residents are the most effusive and/or aggressive population in the U.S.)

Sep. 28 2011 10:28 AM
Kathy from Warren

Could someone give me an example of a compromise that was made on Christie's part? He seems more like, "My way or the highway."

Sep. 28 2011 10:23 AM
Heidi from Central NJ

I think that the govenor is arrogrant and vengeful. We are doing worse now than when he came into office. I don't believe that government in NJ is any less "political" because of his tenure.

Sep. 28 2011 10:23 AM
Edward from NJ

No one in the room with Christie actually hopes that the President will act effectively and solve problems. Their party is doing everything to prevent it.

Sep. 28 2011 10:23 AM
john from office

I hope they vet him, unlike how the vetted Palin. Remember he is from NJ and he has had some questionable activity.

Sep. 28 2011 10:22 AM
mary from Riverside CT

It is disingenuous in the extreme for Christie to talk about Pres. Obama's 'paralysis' as a 'bystander' - his capacity for leadership has been sabotaged by political opponents whose stated mission in government has been to see the president fail.

Sep. 28 2011 10:22 AM

Brian Lehrer is embarrassing himself with his absurd, over the top, fan-like worship of Christie. Christie is an empty suit who is woefully unsuited and unprepared for the job of President of the United States.

Sep. 28 2011 10:22 AM
Tom from Upper West Side

Keep in mind: "Compromise" is a word avoided by all republican candidates because it has biblically based implications that = "ungodly."

Beware of the base!

Sep. 28 2011 10:21 AM
NJ Professor from Bergen County, NJ

Please! Let him run and move out of NJ. I don't think we can do worse than having him here dismantling all the hard won quality of life that our parents left for us. A union job use to provide enough to send your children to school, now, two jobs won't provide enough. Instead of lowering everyone's floor, we should attempt to ban companies from lowering the standards. Christy and his wife are friends of corporate interests.

Sep. 28 2011 10:21 AM


Sep. 28 2011 10:20 AM
john from office

The GOP is desperate. The list is soooo disappointing.

Sep. 28 2011 10:19 AM
Terry McKenna from Dover NJ

re Christie, though he may in fact run, can't we simply accept that he is building for a future, much as Reagan did in the years before he ran, and Nixon too in the years from 1946 - 1952.

My guess is that he plans to run in 4 to 8 years but.. might find himself a VP candidate - which is a good way for a moderate to become presidential without the primaries that are dominated by right wing craziness.

Sep. 28 2011 10:19 AM

This is all a scam. Christie calls Sweeney and Oliver friends. Sweeney publicly called Christie a prick in June and Oliver called him mentally deranged in August. This is simply the Koch brothers anti union program.

Sep. 28 2011 10:19 AM
Nick from UWS

The very fact that you are having this discussion about what Christie "meant", as if this was some kind of exercise in ancient Egyptology, tells you that this is a garden variety politician with perception-blurring monkey-talk coming out of his mouth.

You don't need to "interpret" what normal people say. They generally say what they mean and generally in a simple way. Only liars and con men require conferences on the meaning of their statements. Why do supposedly intelligent American people get pulled into this crap over and over and over?

If the statements of a person require study and interpretation, and it's not in a foreign language, don't get mesmerized by it as if it was a shiny bauble. Back away from it.

Sep. 28 2011 10:18 AM
Edward from NJ

Where does Christie compromise? He let the legislature pass a budget and then line-item vetoed everything he didn't like.

Sep. 28 2011 10:18 AM

Isn't the reason he can get so much done because the NJ governor has line item veto power, so he's in a stronger negotiating position than other governors, or than he would be as President?

Sep. 28 2011 10:15 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Wow - you two are hearing things. Christie did NOT compare the air traffic controllers to the Soviets. He said the Soviets saw how tough Reagan was with our own people, so we surely wouldn't be pushovers for them.

Sep. 28 2011 10:15 AM

he killed that tunnel that would have brought jobs to the region and would have eased the commuting nightmare in the long term

Sep. 28 2011 10:13 AM
Jim from Somerville, NJ

Don't be fooled, Brian. President Christie would make Nixon look like Mother Theresa.

Sep. 28 2011 10:13 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I don't agree with some of the man's politics but I like his style. Unlike Obama - he is potentially a more effective leader.

Sep. 28 2011 10:11 AM
Will Miles

Please--I am nearly begging you--do not make a big deal about Christie's apparent attempt at compromise. This man is fast becoming a better politician. But he is a proven bully to the core. You'll play into his political hands by giving him ANY airtime.

Plus, please stop referring to him by using both names. It's Christie, his last name--just as you refer to all other public figures.

Sep. 28 2011 10:11 AM

The breathless speculation about Chris Christie running for President is insane. His razor thin resume and bullying personality are red flags that should be immediate disqualifications.

Sep. 28 2011 10:10 AM

I would vote for Christie for president!

If he reduced NJ towns and boroughs by combining them into a much smaller number than the current 700 or so.

Without getting that bold act done -- and he's the perfect one to do it! -- he's just hot air.

Sep. 28 2011 10:09 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Another question: What has he done?

Sep. 28 2011 10:07 AM

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