Chris Christie took his budget on the road this morning to the friendly confines of his home county. He held a town hall in Morris County, also a GOP stronghold, to tell a crowd of several hundred who braved a steady snowfall that Democratic legislators better work with him to fix the bankrupt pension system -- or else he will have to take "more extreme measures."
"I don't think anyone wants me to do that," he said.
That was a reprise, albeit with more teeth, from his budget address yesterday. What was new today -- and starkly different from the dour budget speech and somewhat hostile crowd in Sandy-ravaged Point Monmouth last week -- was the jokes.
The governor often peppers his town halls and press conferences with one liners. In the wake of Bridgegate, though, that humor has been largely absent. But today, the jokester-in-chief was back. Here's a sampling:
- The gov opened up with a weather joke, noting that it snowed a lot this morning and it wasn't supposed to. "The only two professions in America where you keep getting paid even when you are always wrong affect my life everyday -- pollsters and weathermen," he said. "I mean, they don't ever have to have it right and then they come back the next day and they sound just as authoritative as they used to right? It's crazy." (It should be noted that Christie faced his worst poll numbers in three years this week.)
- A light shining on Christie blew out. "They try to light me to make me look better, everybody. But these aren't miracle lights."
- New Jersey elected a Democratic legislature and Republican governor -- a toxic brew akin to "your 13-year-old doing a science experiment in the basement."
- Christie is paying for his children's tuition at three parochial schools and Princeton University. "I'm just glad Mrs. Christie has a good job. Listen, I married her when she didn't know any better. She's been carrying me ever since."
- Christie used an old warning to big laughs when he opened the town hall to questions. "We are all from New Jersey. You know what that means. If you give it, you're getting it right back."
- In a veiled warning to Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Christie said: "Let’s not start running for governor now. Particularly in the state senate, everybody wakes up in the morning and sees a governor.”
- Time for the last question. "You better ask a good question -- or this crowd will turn on you."
- Christie's late mother's long-time friend came up to get a signed copy of a Time magazine featuring a tough-looking Christie on the cover. Christie said when the issue came out, his son got a copy -- but he kept it face down in his room. Why? "It's too scary to look at at night," his son told him.