By Lauren Wanko
More than 800 people welcomed Gov. Chris Christie to Montville today for his latest town hall. But one place he isn’t welcome is on the stage of the Conservative Political Action Conference. CPAC decided not to invite the popular governor to speak as one of the stars of the conservative base that were asked. Today the governor said it doesn’t bother him a whole heck of a lot.
“I get a few hundred invitations a week to speak, everything from a local club to national organizations so I don’t keep track. I don’t see them usually. Usually they get vetted by my staff and the ones that they think I might be interested in they bring to me to decide which ones I go to. So I didn’t know that I hadn’t been invited to CPAC until like two days ago when I saw it on the news,” Christie said.
And this is what made the news. In an interview with Politico, the CPAC head admitted to leaving Christie out this year. “This past year he strongly advocated for the passage of a $60+ billion pork barrel bill, containing only $9 billion in disaster assistance and he signed up with the federal government to expand Medicaid at a time when his state can ill afford it, so he was not invited to speak. Hopefully he will be back in top form next year. We would be delighted to invite him again in that case,” Al Cardenas said.
“Yeah apparently I hadn’t been invited. Listen, I wish them all the best. They’re going to have their conference, they’re going to have a bunch of people speaking there. They don’t want to invite me. That’s their call, it’s their organization, it’s their business and they get to decide who the want to come and not come. It’s not like I’m lacking for invitations to speak,” Christie said.
Today’s town hall was a bit like a football post-game show except in the Pine Brook Jewish Center. For those who missed yesterday’s budget address, they got the highlight reel and then the focus shifted to Christie’s middle class reform agenda.
“What the middle class reform agenda is are the things that we still need to do to deal with the property tax issue in the state, even more than we’ve dealt with it already and the things the legislature has not yet found a way to get to,” Christie said.
Questions from the audience ranged from the Sandy relief package to how New Jersey can attract more pharmaceuticals companies to the state to the sequester.
“There’s no excuse for both sides to be fighting with each other like they are. It’s essentially $44 billion in a $3.6 trillion budget. Let’s get together and straighten this out and the fact is that — I’ve said this all along — the president is the one who has to show the leadership.”
Christie promised to be back in Montville again to answer some of the questions he didn’t get to address in today’s town hall.