Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s governor, became the unlucky #13 in the GOP presidential race when he declared his candidacy in the same week with media-obsessed Supreme Court decisions. This week, he lost all visibility after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that he will save the country with his magnificent leadership. Even Donald Trump may have to briefly take a back seat to Christie as the two huge egos battle for the front of the “clown car” of GOP candidates.
Although he told Matt Lauer that he has controlled his temper and uses it only for injustice, he told the press corps to buzz off after asked about the recent shortages of press conferences. He finished by saying, “Get over it” and called reporters “you people.” Christie tried to explain to them that he didn’t want to answer questions because reporters will decide what to talk about and it will “muddle the message of the day” that he wants. His bombast brings back the memory of Rudy Giuliana, who “now occupies the role in American politics as the crazy uncle who starts media trash fires by saying things like Obama doesn’t love America,” according to Jack Shafer.
Before “Bridgegate,” in which he dodged his involvement in closing the George Washington Bridge between his state and New York for retribution against a mayor who wouldn’t support his gubernatorial candidacy, Christie had his admirers. Many of them have disappeared after his continual childish, bullying behavior and the information about his excesses and failures. His in-state approval rating is 30 percent, just two points above Jindal’s, and the 6.5 percent unemployment, worse than 48 states, reflects the fact that the state hasn’t regained even half of the jobs lost during the recession.
His governor’s record shows how he would lead the country:
Scrapping a tunnel project which would have alleviated New Jersey residents’ commutes and created jobs so he wouldn’t have to raise the gas tax.
Cutting $2.1 billion in taxes for corporations by taking money from New Jersey residents.
Falling credit rating nine times, the second worst among all the states, during Christie’s five years.
Reducing the earned income tax credit.
Vetoing legislation to raise the minimum wage to $8.50, and calling it “truly ridiculous” before voters approved an increase last November.
Driving the state to the brink of a pension disaster until the state Supreme Court let him off the hook for $1.57 billion in payments, leaving it $80 billion in the red. (Public workers are still insisting that he pay the promised pensions to 800,000 working and retired employers.) Christie wants to cut back Social Security for anyone making over $80,000 and eliminate payment for those making over $200,000, despite the payments that these people made into Social Security.
Settling with Exxon for $225 million in a $8.9-billion pollution lawsuit after the corporation donated over $1.9 million to the Republican Governors Association. Christie’s first AG worked for Exxon for seven years, and his deputy chief of staff left for a job with Exxon’s lobbying firm. New Jersey law allows Christie to take money from the environmental litigation to the general fund where it covers budget gaps.
Passing on the state health care exchange by vetoing for the second time legislation directing him to set this up.
Vetoing bills to expand early voting, a ban on the Barrett .50 caliber rifle, and a bill to prevent gender wage discrimination in public contracts.
Cutting $7.4 billion in family funding for Planned Parenthood to provide such health care services as mammograms to women. (The program never funded abortions.)
Enacting strict and unneeded quarantine practices for Ebola, raising questions about his management of public health issues as president.
Christie, who wants candidates who “believe in what they say and don’t change depending on what state they’re in,” also has a strong record of flip-flopping:
Citizenship: From advocating for immigrants in 2008 to describing it as an “extreme way to go” and not “where the American people are.”
Reproductive rights: From supporting a woman’s right to choose and donating to Planned Parenthood to becoming anti-choice and defunding Planned Parenthood five times.
Common Core education guidelines: From criticizing the GOP for their “knee-jerk” opposition to the president in 2013 to saying that it is “simply not working.” (He is still using the same Common Core tests.)
Gun violence protections: From speaking out against the NRA in 2012 and signing a bill to keep terror suspects from buying guns in New Jersey to claiming that he would change the gun violence protections if he had a GOP legislature.
Climate change: From agreeing that climate change is real and impacting his state in 2011 to no proof that it had an affect on Superstorm Sandy to agreeing that human activity contributes to climate change.
What reporters have discovered about Christie:
Anger: “His Jersey-style directness is … often mean-spirited and vicious. Challenge him at your own risk. He’s a bully.”
Revenge: Even before the Bridgegate scandal, “Christie went after sexually abused kids, heartlessly cutting the funding to a facility that nurtures these vulnerable children in a heated budget battle with Democrats. And he killed a college internship program after the founder sided with Democrats in a redistricting fight.”
Rough play: His personal vision of being a “uniter” is negated by any YouTube video where he is challenged by an audience member. He treats legislators the same way.
A street fighter—for Wall Street: By the second year of his first gubernatorial term, he had “vetoed higher taxes on millionaires, but raised the tax burden on poor families by cutting the earned income tax credit. (He has also been blind to the needs of the poor, targeted seniors with his cuts and slashed women’s health programs.)” Under his watch, annual fees paid to New Jersey’s pension managers leapt from $200 million in 2012 to $600 million in 2014. A few hundred thousand dollars goes to Angelo Gordon that hired Christie’s wife, Mary Pat Christie, for $475,000 a year. New Jersey no longer invests with the company, but the state pays them hundreds of thousands of dollars because the state has an “illiquid” investment valued at $6.6 million in the firm. No one knows that what it.
Blind to own ethical lapses: He flies on private planes owned by executives with pending business in his state. Christie also charged $82,594 at MetLife Stadium to the state on 58 different occasions during 18 months while he had free seats. To avoid a scandal, the state GOP committee paid back the state. During five years in office, Christie spent almost $300,000 from his state allowance to buy food, alcohol and desserts. There are also 60 unofficial out-of-state travel expenses, taxpayer-fueled fundraising, potentially breaking pay-to-play laws, and 23 court battles to keep public documents secret. He has also been accused of withholding $800 million of disaster relief after Superstorm Sandy.
Contempt for women: Sheila Oliver? A liar. Loretta Weinberg? Someone should take a bat to her. Valerie Vainieri Huttle? A jerk.
Tom Moran, who covered Christie for over a decade, wrote an op-ed for the Newark Star-Ledger about Christie’s being a pathological liar. The piece is well worth reading.
Christie has fallen from 7 percent in the national primary polls in January to just 3 percent, putting him in danger of missing the first debate on Fox. In Iowa he comes in 13th. Harry Enten wrote, “Chris Christie’s bid for the presidency, which officially began Tuesday morning, is likely to fall off the George Washington Bridge and end up in the Hudson River.”
Christie tried to explain that the reason 65 percent of the people in his state thinks he would be a terrible president by saying that they don’t want him to leave.That doesn’t explain why 69 percent of New Jersey voters think he’s lying when he said he didn’t close the bridge.
The latest GOP presidential candidate is fact challenged, ethics challenged, and economically challenged while he nixes infrastructure projects, fouls traffic, bullies people, defunds pensions to give Wall Street money, and profligately spends money.
Right now Christie is spending a lot of time in Maine where Gov. Paul LePage has endorsed Christie for president. Maine’s legislature is investigating LePage for abuse of power because he threatened to withhold state funds from a private school for at-risk children until the school withdrew a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.
Christie said he’s happy to receive the support from somebody who “knows what it’s like to make tough decisions, knows what it’s like to engage in hand-to-hand combat.” That’s the kind of combat that people could expect from Christie if here were president.