Christie’s speech places emphasis on national issues
Before his State of the State address Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie held an off-the-record briefing with national media outlets only and shut out New Jersey journalists . That could be viewed as one sign that he will toss his hat in the ring and run for president in 2016, but other signals were clearly evident in the speech as well.
During the address, Christie touted New Jersey accomplishments and successes such as growing the economy, creating jobs, reforming our criminal justice system, improving some of the state's most challenged cities, enacting pension reform and the 2 percent cap on property taxes.
The governor also talked about the need for more pension and education reform, but he did not present a plan.
The first mention of Washington came just minutes into the speech when the governor said he balanced five budgets in a row, and unlike Washington, he didn't do it by raising taxes. Christie threw more red meat to national Republican voters when he vowed to veto any income tax increase, but he made no such promise regarding the possibility of a gas tax hike to replenish the nearly bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund.
In the latter stages on the address, Christie significantly ratcheted up his focus on national issues.
"America remains a country ill at ease. America's economy is growing, but it is not growing enough," Christie said. "The economy is simply not as strong as it could be, or as it should be. We are a nation beset by anxiety. It is understandable. Economic growth is low by post-war recovery standards."
The governor said America's leadership in the world is called into question because of a pattern of inconsistency and indecision in Washington.
"During this time of uncertainty it seems our leaders in Washington would rather stoke division for their own political gain and this culture of divisiveness and distrust has seeped into our communities and our neighborhoods," Christie said.
Keeping with the national theme, Christie also talked about his travels across the country as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and stressed the need for an American renewal.
There was no mention in the speech of two issues that could be viewed nationally as failures for the governor. Christie did not discuss Atlantic City's struggles or problems with Sandy recovery.
At a press conference immediately following the address, State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) was asked for his thoughts on the governor's national focus.
"He's running for president. That's what it sounds like to me," said Sweeney.