Christmas Blizzard 2010: Chris Christie’s Katrina, Or Much Ado About Nothing?
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is defending his absence from the state during last week’s blizzard:
“I would have been doing the same thing here as I was there,” Christie said. “I would not have been out driving a plow. I would be in a room somewhere on a telephone. That’s exactly the same thing I was doing in Florida.”
He said he was making hourly phone calls with staff about the response that by selecting strong leaders for the DOT and State Police, he had ensured the best response.
“You can decide to be a showboat, hop on a plow and act like you’re doing something or you can actually put leadership skills to work that put competent people with good character in important positions,” Christie said.
He slammed those who were critical of him, saying that it was partisan response to him being away. Democratic state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) was the first to criticize Christie for being away, questioning why a lieutenant governor position was created if both the governor and lieutenant governor were going to vacation at the same time.
Christie said Lesniak, who was also vacationing in Florida this week, should return his legislative paycheck since he spends so much time in Paris, France.
“All of the Monday morning quarterbacking and the harping and complaining should just take a breath,” Christie said.
He went on to say that given the holiday lull, the media would have otherwise been left to report on year end summaries and the news of him being away provided “filler” for reporters.
Brad Schaeffer at FrumForum speculates on the potential damage this could do to Christie politically:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s vacation during the recent Northeast blizzard has garnered much national media attention. But did his decision not to return to directly supervise the clean-up seriously harm his political future?
Most voters in New Jersey still care about other issues more: the budget and the school unions. However, with many people snowed into their homes for several days, Christie’s excuse that he had promised to take his kids to Disneyworld and didn’t go back on his promises appeared pretty lame. This snowstorm was a once in a quarter-century event.
Christie’s poll ratings had been dropping even before this latest controversy and if he isn’t careful moving forward, voters may begin to perceive his straight talk as bull-headed arrogance.
I suppose it’s possible, but it seems really unlikely at this point. The cleanup from the storm went relatively smoothly and Christie is correct that there isn’t anything he would’ve been doing in Trenton that he wasn’t already doing in Florida. From an “optics” point of view, the was perhaps a mistake on Christie’s part, but not one that’s likely to hurt him significantly.