Christie is finishing his first term as governor and will be seeking reelection in 2013. He has built a reputation as a rare no-nonsense, straight-talking politician. The public claims they want an honest politician, but when they see one, he gets roundly criticized for being honest.
The governor has been given high marks for his response to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated both New Jersey and New York City. He is a living example of how a politician can set aside partisanship for the betterment of the people. The way he and President Obama joined together to comfort and help those affected by the storm was remarkable in light of the polarization of our body politic.
Christie served as one of Mitt Romney’s most visible and staunchest surrogates. Christie can be very partisan, but seems to have the maturity and wisdom to know when to put partisanship aside. This seems to have led him to be in trouble with many in the Republican Party.
Christie has been effusive with his praise of President Obama’s handling of the storm. The president, in turn, has been just as effusive in praise of Christie.
As a top surrogate for Romney and with the election less than a week away, many in the party seemed to be taken aback at this “love-fest” between to politicians from opposite parties. Many Republicans thought Christie was providing a huge “political” boost to Obama at a critical time in the election.
Christy made it perfectly clear to media outlets that his focus was totally on getting help for his people without any political considerations. But, Fox News would not accept the governor’s words and proceeded to ask him about whether he would tour the state with Romney. In classic Christie style, he smacked the Fox anchors right across the lips with a stinging rebuke, “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff… If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me,” he said. The Fox anchors looked like a deer in the headlights.
In other interviews Christie said, “The federal government response has been great. I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president personally,” he told NBC’s “Today” program.
During a press conference Christie said, “The president has been outstanding in this. The folks at FEMA … have been excellent…I don’t give a damn about Election Day. It doesn’t matter a lick to me at the moment…I’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
Wow! We heard a national Republican who actually believes that there is a legitimate role for the federal government to play in our lives. Maybe Christie is that “adult” the Republican Party needs to get our party back on track and to tone down some of the craziness happening within the party—“legitimate rape,” “the president is lazy,” “the president should learn how to be American,” etc.
In a country that has become hyper-partisan to the point of total gridlock, you have a politician who is determined to put the people first, even if it helps the opposition party right before a major election. Did Christie want Romney to defeat Obama in the election? Certainly he did. But it was more important that he got his people the help they needed.
Without a doubt, Christie was the true winner of this year’s election. And the Republican Party can win, too, if it adopts his road map for balancing partisanship with governorship. This is the only way to get the GOP back to relevancy.
(Raynard Jackson is president and CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com.)
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