Christie Strikes Presidential Notes With Budget Speech
Did Gov. Chris Christie strike a presidential tone during Tuesday's state budget address when he unveiled a $33.8 billion budget that called for no new tax increases and a drastic change to the state's pension and health benefits system?
Christie showcased New Jersey's problems and solutions for solving them, while also putting them in a national light. Political pundits said that is what presidential hopefuls do.
"He got out sound bites about not raising taxes, about cutting back on government spending and he even got out a claim that he reached out across the aisle to a union (NewJersey Education Association) to create a workable pension deal," said Matthew Hale, associate political science professor at Seton Hall University.
Taxes came up rather quickly in the governor's 26-minute long address. Less than a minute into the speech, Christie declared that for the sixth time in a row his budget does not include any "new taxes on the people of New Jersey."
"Clearly he's trying to take New Jersey's problems and put them in a national context. Any presidential hopeful wants to make the argument that he really is in charge of the problems, that he's got them under control and can dominate them," said Peter Woolley, Fairleigh Dickinson University political science professor.
According to Hale, the governor was really speaking to two audiences during his spending plan message. He was addressing Garden State residents and voters across the nation.
One theme he addressed was bipartisanship.
"We have proven time and again that even when we look like we're not going to make it work and that politics and partisan interests have won out, we flip the script. We do it differently. We get it done," said Christie during his address.
Both Hale and Woolley said Christie did not say anything to damage his presidential hopes, but neither one offered a glowing endorsement.
"I think the best you can say about that speech is that he didn't hurt himself," Woolley said.
Christie also played to a national audience during his budget address when he compared New Jersey's fiscal challenges to those in other states and the federal government alike.
The governor also suggested that the solutions to New Jersey's problems could work on a national level. "Through our ability to bring people together who have not agreed in the past, we are setting a national trend. By putting forward new solutions to age old problems, we are creating a national model," Christie said during his speech.
"I think the governor did a good job in this budget address speaking to Iowa and New Hampshire," Hale said.
Christie has said he is mulling a presidential run in 2016, but he has not given a timetable for when he will make a formal announcement.