Recently re-elected New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took to the microphone today to reaffirm he had no involvement in the “Bridgegate” scandal that has put him in hot water with New Jerseyites and voters across the country. It may be the most scandalous situation Christie has found himself in so far in his career, but it’s hardly the first time he’s been in the political spotlight.
Christie has been called a bully, which he vehemently denies. Instead, he says he's just a straight-talking conservative who tells it like it is. The recent scandal, however, goes against a career spent building an image of an unconventional, non-establishment politician. In light of the buzz around Christie, we decided to look back at the highlights of his time as a Party of One.
Christie is best known for his handling of the Hurricane Sandy aftermath in 2012. With the 2012 presidential election looming, Christie shrugged off anything and everything political to focus on the people of New Jersey. When Fox News asked Christie if then-presidential hopeful Mitt Romney would come tour damage with him, Christie retorted, “I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey…If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.” Christie further ruffled feathers in the GOP when he praised President Obama for his assistance with Sandy later in that interview.
But he’s made it clear he’ll go after Democrats. He’s called colleagues from across the aisle “numb nuts,” and he told President Obama to “cry me a river.” He asked reporters to “take the bat” to New Jersey state Senator and Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg for collecting a pension along with her pay as a legislator. Some 18 percent more Democrats and 6 percent more Republicans considered him a “bully” after that comment.
While Dems have borne the brunt of Christie’s attacks, Republicans have felt the heat too. Last summer Christie butted heads with fellow 2016 presidential hopeful Senator Rand Paul, reacting to Paul’s assertion that Christie’s request for federal aid for Hurricane Sandy relief was part of a problem “bankrupting the government.” He told Paul to look at spending in his own state, but said “I doubt he would, because most Washington politicians only care about bringing home the bacon so that they can get re-elected."
His disregard for party politics has made him a favorite of moderates, even though he asserts, “I’m a conservative,” all while saying Republicans can call him “whatever they want,” after Tea Partiers said he was a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Potential voters have made their support for Christie heard in early 2016-presidential polls: As of December, Christie was at a near split with Hillary Clinton, according to Real Clear Politics.
Christie’s raw style and handling of Sandy propelled him to a landslide re-election victory in late 2013, when he beat out Democratic state Senator Barbara Buono. After a rough 2012 for Republicans, Christie won that race with 60 percent of the vote, by a 22 point margin. Christie took the majority of the women’s vote, got half of the Hispanic vote, and increased his share of the vote among blacks by 10 percentage points from four years earlier.
Prior to his reelection victory, Christie had some advice for Obama in regards to his "You can keep your health plan" promise. He said, “Just admit it to people. Say, 'You know what, I said it, I was wrong. I’m sorry, and we’re going to try and fix it and make it better.’”
Christie seems to have taken his own advice today: When answering questions at the press conference, he paraphrased a former president and emphatically declared, “The buck stops at my desk.” If Christie wants to bring that philosophy to the White House himself, he’ll need to move past “bridgegate” and prove to voters he’s more a straight talker than a bully.