POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

In South Jersey speech Christie urges state GOP to embrace his legacy

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

“I have not spoken about my successor for nine months. My successor can’t stop talking about me,” said former Gov. Chris Christie. “Other than Tammy, I’m the second most popular name that comes out of his mouth.”

Christie wanted to make it clear that his speech at the Rowan University Institute for Public Policy wasn’t going to be a series of shots taken at his successor. Then he went ahead and took an hour’s worth of shots at his successor.

“I heard the governor give a speech a couple of weeks ago about his self-proclaimed bold plan to restore New Jersey’s economy,” he said. “This, of course, came as quite a shock to a whole bunch of people. Which people exactly? The 334,400 people who obtained private sector jobs in the eight years before he came into office. They’re shocked because they didn’t know the economy needed to be revitalized because in the eight years before I became governor, many of them, over 250,000 of them, had lost their jobs and weren’t working.”

Relaxed in an open-collared mint-colored shirt and sporting spectacles in public, which he rarely did when he was in office, the former governor spoke about the future of the Republican Party – concentrating mostly on the GOP in New Jersey, which he dominated for eight years. The message, now that Democrats are holding all the cards is, be bold, sing the songs of the Christie era and voters will come back.

“If the future of the Republican Party wants to be bright, bold, innovative, successful future, then get on the ball. Start working now. The time to be quiet is over,” he added. “The victory lap is done, and believe me, we are seeing, are we not, that the job’s a lot harder from the inside than it looked from the outside. So it’s time for every Republican who cares about this and wants a future for the party to fight for it.”

The former governor took a wide range of questions from the mostly Republican crowd. As for losing to Trump?

“In that race in 2016, I was supposed to be running as the blunt, direct, no nonsense guy who was going to wrestle Washington into doing what they needed to do. Tell it like it is,” he chuckled. “Good plan. I was doing what people wanted, except the guy who was on ‘The Apprentice’ for 10 years decided that’s what he wanted to do.”

He passed on predicting a winner in the Hugin/Menendez race and said Sen. Cory Booker can’t win for president.

“Republicans will retain the Senate, and my guess is that they’ll probably gain two to four seats, somewhere in that range. I think the House is a likely loser,” he said. “I think the Webber/Sherrill race is a tossup. I think MacArthur and Lance will survive and I think Jeff Van Drew will win in District 2.”

Christie says don’t get used to seeing him in this setting. He’s digging life as a private citizen, making money, not looking at his watch as much and learning, now that he’s a former governor, how to parallel park, which, like being governor, is a lot harder than it looks.