"I am a shy, retiring guy," the blunt-spoken governor of New Jersey, jokingly, told an audience at The Brookings Institution on July 9th.
Speaking on the important but rather unexciting topic of "Restoring Fiscal Integrity and Accountability," the governor certainly knows how to impress a crowd with his straight talk.
Talking about the role of a governor he stresses his leadership qualities. "We tell people how we think and how we feel... lead by being yourself... talk honestly to people."
Talking about his accomplishments as governor of the Garden State, the former
U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey says, "Have principles, but compromise when necessary." He credits his leadership skills, his honesty and his willingness to be blunt and tell the truth about "shared sacrifices" to helping him balance his state budget with the Democratic leadership in his state.
As he comments, "Executives lead and legislatures can be persuaded to listen if you sit down together at the table."
He says, "You can find and force compromise as governor.... The obligation of a governor is to find that space between compromising your principals and getting everything you want." Of course, as he points out, no governor ever gets everything he or she wants when dealing with a legislature controlled by the other party.
"My role as governor is to get the job done. We need to talk about [compromise]... Government can work [if] leaders take risks."
Quoting his late strong-willed mother, he remarks, "Share everything with people who trust you." Cuts in budgets can be painful, but Governor Christie said that if everyone realizes they are sharing the sacrifices then this will be a workable plan as he has accomplished in New Jersey.
"Talk honestly with people and we will all hurt" by budget cuts. Let's use "common sense and fairness" together. "They can be painful... but shared sacrifices" must be "across the entire spectrum."
The governor, who was introduced as a man who has attended 129 Bruce Springsteen concerts in his life, talked about how he is making New Jersey competitive again with lower tax rates.
Criticizing the stalemate between the president and Congress, he remarks that taxes are not a Republican or Democratic issue but a national issue. He says, "Simpson-Bowles... should have been pursued. We have to deal with entitlements... in an honest way. Entitlement restraint" is important "or we are lost."
He comes across as very confident but confrontational and very well-versed on the issues of the day. Many critics have said he is arrogant and self-centered and impulsive. His blunt talk probably tends to turn off many voters.
He would be a lively vice-presidential candidate who might overshadow Romney. But he would certainly add life and vigor and excitement to the Republican ticket.
He would be more like a lively and boisterous Teddy Roosevelt than the former governor of New Jersey, the serious, severe and pompous Woodrow Wilson.
Christie, who is certainly an impressive speaker in person, would be a plus for Romney and the Republicans. But he is probably too lively and outspoken to make it on the ticket. His outspoken manner and, some say, belligerent tone may be too much for many Republicans for the national ticket.
Christie, who states that he "can walk and chew gum at the same time" and has the courage to compromise, is an imposing figure.
Whether this Springsteen and Mets fan makes it on the national ticket this year, his political future seems secure, and 2016 could see him make a run for the Oval Office if Obama is re-elected this year.
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