Governor Chris Christie, a New Jersey Republican cruising toward re-election in a Democrat-dominated state, said politicians in Washington “played chicken” as a partial U.S. government shutdown neared.
Christie, 51, has been critical of lawmakers from both parties and President Barack Obama throughout the shutdown. Speaking at an event in the nation’s capital last night, he said employee furloughs and reduced federal funding haven’t dramatically affected New Jersey, though that may change.
If the shutdown persists, the Garden State will be hurt, Christie said. He faulted Obama for waiting until Oct. 10 to host a discussion with Republican congressional leaders and he criticized the lawmakers for “wasting time” with political disputes. The governor sat out the 2012 presidential campaign and has so far declined to say whether he’ll run in 2016.
“Everybody is at fault here,” Christie said after receiving an award from Points of Light, a civic group. “They all saw this coming, and they all played chicken with each other and now the country is fed up and rightfully so.”
Christie, who has honed an image as a straight shooter, was lauded by the Atlanta-based group for spurring volunteer efforts after Hurricane Sandy, which devastated New Jersey Oct. 29, 2012. At one point during the storm’s aftermath, the governor took on congressmen from his own party because of delays in passing a $50 billion supplemental spending bill to aid the recovery of his state and others along the Atlantic seaboard.
The governor said he would “kill himself if he was in the U.S. Senate,” in an interview published yesterday by the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. Christie said last night that he was using “dramatic” effects to highlight that most Washington politics is a “waste of time.”
“Beyond the human impact, it’s an awful example in governance,” Christie said of the impasse in the capital over spending and the federal debt. “You can’t expect people to have faith in our democracy when people don’t resolve these issues.”
“It’s just ridiculous,” the governor said. “We got hired to do the job. Just do the job.”
During a campaign debate Oct. 9, Christie deflected questions about whether he is running for president, saying he wasn’t prepared to make that declaration. Yet he didn’t say that he wouldn’t run in 2016, either.
Christie, who announced his re-election campaign on storm-ravaged Long Beach Island, has said helping the state recover from Sandy is his “mission.” The storm laid waste to much of New Jersey’s 127-mile (200 kilometer) coastline, leaving 365,000 homes damaged or destroyed.
The governor has maintained a comfortable lead over Democratic state Senator Barbara Buono, who trailed him by about 30 percentage points in recent voter surveys. Christie has raised $6 for every $1 she has been able to collect.
In 2009, Christie became the first in his party to win a statewide election in New Jersey since 1997 when he ousted incumbent Jon Corzine, the former Wall Street executive and U.S. senator. Polls have shown that most independents and even a third of Democrats support him for another term.