He’s plain-spoken and tough. If there is an opposite of spin, that is how he delivers his message. There is no sugar-coating, no nuance, no pretense to what he says. His though, no-nonsense persona is quintessential New Jersey all the way. His campaign slogan: “Telling it like it is,” tells your all you need to know about how he sees himself. How well his style will play with the rest of America has yet to be seen. He is betting that it will be received in one place outside of the Garden State, the all important primary state of New Hampshire.
Most of America is familiar with his direct manner, but not him personally. Wednesday in Livingston, NJ he set out to share his personal story with America. He spoke at length about his upbringing in urban, northern New Jersey. His story is one that many in middle-America can identify with and he told that story in his announcement speech. His upbringing he maintains, prepared him for the leadership roles he we take on later in life.
He mentioned when he became Governor of New Jersey, the state was in sad fiscal shape. “When I became governor six years ago, we had a state that was in economic calamity,” he said. He went on to describe how he managed to balance the state’s budget six years in a row. He also managed to reform the state’s tenure laws for teachers. He also set out to rework teacher’s pensions and health plans, issues that remain a contentious in the state.
Turning his attention to the Federal government, he spoke of the deep divisions in Washington D.C. saying, ” Americans are not angry, Americans are filled with anxiety. They’re filled with anxiety because they look to Washington D.C. and they see a government that not only doesn’t work anymore, it doesn’t even talk to each other anymore.” He suggested that governing in a ‘blue’ state such as New Jersey as a Republican makes him better qualified to overcome the partisan divide that exists in Washington today.
He phrased the issue of entitlements in his trademark Jersey style, “We need to fix a broken entitlement system that is bankrupting our country. We have candidates that say we cannot confront, because if we do we’ll be lying and stealing from the American people. Let me fill everyone else in, the lying and stealing has already happened. The horse is already out of the barn. We’ve got to get it back in and you can only do it by force.”
Moving on to foreign affairs, he followed what has become a staple of Republican speeches as of late, that our friends no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us. In his words: “…And it is a strong, unequivocal, America, that will lead the world and not be afraid to tell our friends we’ll be with you no matter what. And to tell our adversaries that there are limits to your conduct and America will enforce the limits to that conduct.”
That lead to his first direct criticism of the current administration and his perspective opponent in the general election, “After seven years of a weak and feckless foreign policy, run by Barack Obama, we’d better not turn it over to his second mate Hilary Clinton.” He took another swipe at the Obama/Clinton foreign policy in a manner typifying his leadership philosophy, “But if we’re going to lead, we have to stop worrying about being loved and start caring about being respected again at home and around the world.”
Christie, for better or worse, knows who he is and what works for him. His is a blunt style that never leaves you guessing where he stands. He stated this truism about himself, “When I stand up on a stage like this in front of all of you there is one thing you will know for sure, I mean what I say and I say what I mean and that’s what America needs right now.” It remains to be seen if the rest of the country is ready for the virtue of New Jersey directness. Governor Christie hopes it will be well received in New Hampshire to start. If it does,he can begin to hope that enough of the rest of the states will support him. If not, it could be a very short campaign in 2016.