If he had to do it all again, Chris Christie would still give a bear hug to President Obama.
The New Jersey governor was asked on CNN this morning about the infamous embrace after Hurricane Sandy and just before the 2012 presidential election. Considering the backlash he’s received since, would he do the same today?
“I absolutely would because it’s my job,” Christie replied. “It’s my job to protect and serve the people of the state of New Jersey who just suffered the most devastating natural disaster in our state’s history and the second most devastating natural disaster in the country’s history. So of course I would treat the president of the United States with respect when he came to visit, which is what I did.”
The governor was reminded that his approval rating was 77 percent back then. Last month, it had fallen to 30 percent.
“Listen, I shook his hand. I welcomed him and I thanked him for his help. I thought that’s what civilized human beings do with each other, whether you’re in the same party or in different parties. And if that’s where our politics has gotten to, then no one should wonder in this country why we are in the condition we are in, if we can’t even be civilized to each other anymore,” Christie said.
“That’s not the kind of politics I’ll bring to Washington, D.C. I’ll bring tough politics, but civilized politics to Washington. But most importantly, what I’ll bring is my heart and my mind to do my job that the people elect me to do.”
Christie said it’s “hard to tell” how Bridgegate might hurt him.
The U.S. Attorney did a 15-month investigation, he noted. “I used to do this for a living. If you didn’t find the evidence after the first 15 months, you’re not finding it. Because you know why? There isn’t any. I had nothing to do with it,” he said. “And so, you know, in the end, I don’t think the American people are going to make their decision based upon a traffic jam.”
“Seventy-seven percent is pretty high in a Democratic state for a Republican governor. If you look at my approval ratings from the day I came into office until now. They have gone up and down. The reason for that is because when I get political capital, I spend it. I take on teacher tenure reform, I take on pension reform and health benefit reform. We take on all the big issues that are going on in this state, and when you do that, you are going to anger some people and when you do, you’re going to lose their support. But then when those programs work, you gain their support back. I’m willing to bet you by this time next year, those numbers will be back up because people will see the things are working.”