Speaking with Philadelphia radio host Dom Giordano this Friday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie broached local and national issues as well as the battle for the GOP 2012 nomination.
The governor devoted a significant amount of time to repairing self-inflicted political damage done early last week when Christie compared the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to the Tea Party.
The remark drew the ire of conservative radio hosts such as Mark Levin who objected to equating the Tea Party with the left-wing Occupy protests.
Dom Giordano’s interview with the governor
“You’ve made some comments, and listeners wanted to hear you unfiltered…about the Occupy Wall Street people – we have it hear in Philly – did you make any kind of comparison between them and the Tea Party?” Dom queried. “Because I don’t see any comparison.”
“No here’s what I said. I think that what you’re seeing is – there’s extraordinary anger in our country about government – and how dysfunctional government is. I think the Tea Party is angry because they believe government has gotten too large, too invasive in their lives, taxing too much…” Christie responded.
“What I said was the Occupy Wall Street people are angry about the dysfunction of government as well. Their anger though is a completely different solution. They want government to get bigger, to tax people more, and to be more invasive in our lives.”
The governor then sought to amend his initial statement, reframing his remarks as a direct criticism of Barack Obama.
“The only similarity I see Dom between the two is that this anger is a creation of this Obama administration. People look at this administration, the dysfunction of this administration, their inability to get anything done for the people. And it creates anger – not only on the right but on the left.”
“They’re both angry – and they should be angry – because this president has failed us, and he’s leading a government in Washington DC that’s failed us,” Christie concluded.
If all politics is local, all political labels are relative
The controversy regarding Christie’s comments was about more than the governor’s recent comparison of Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party.
Local Democrat pundits equate the New Jersey governor with the conservative faction of the GOP because of his stance on public sector unions. And, in the context of the local politics of the very liberal Garden State, Chris Christie is a right-winger.
However, it is worth noting Christie refused to join other Republican governors in challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. And, he is at odds with the GOP base on a number of national issues from gun control to immigration.
Though further to the right than past GOP Garden State officials, like Christine Todd Whitman, recent events show that on the national stage Christie is more aligned with the Republican Party’s northeast moderates such as Mitt Romney.
Indeed, his comments on Occupy garnered so much scrutiny because they came on the heels of Chris Christie’s October 11th endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential campaign.
National gain means local pain?
Chris Christie commanded significant attention in recent months due to speculation he would launch his own 2012 presidential candidacy. His ensuing time in the media spotlight made his endorsement a more valuable commodity in the short term. Yet while the timing for Christie’s political maneuvering was good on the national stage, it was bad for the governor locally.
In the next three weeks, New Jersey will hold elections to determine representatives for its state legislature – the outcome of which will be critical for Christie to move forward on school choice, budget reform, and other elements of the his agenda.
Whether the governor’s comments on the Occupiers, and his endorsement of Mitt Romney, will offend Tea Party voters and depress New Jersey’s GOP turnout in November remains to be seen.
But the prospect is troubling to say the least.
A free podcast of Dom Giordano’s interview with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is available here
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