Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie believes Republican policies can get a positive hearing from American voters, and the GOP has one person to thank for that:
President Joe Biden.
“Joe Biden continues to push an income redistribution, socialist message,” Christie told NHJournal Tuesday. “We might as well have elected Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, given the way Joe Biden’s governing in the first 13 weeks. Successful Republican candidates at the state and federal level will be the ones who lay out a vision for the future, while explaining why the Biden approach right now is destructive for the economic and foreign policy future of our country.”
Christie spoke to NHJournal in advance of his virtual appearance at the New Hampshire Center Right Coalition meeting on Wednesday morning. His message for the Granite State’s conservative activists will be, he said, one word:
“My message is going to be that we have to unite as a party to stop some of the really insane things going on in the first 13 weeks of the Biden administration,” Christie told NHJournal in a preview of his remarks. “Joe Biden’s already proposed over $4 trillion in additional spending, on top of $1.9 trillion already adopted — and we’ve got more to come, I assume, in [Wednesday night’s] speech.”
President Biden will be addressing a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, the first such event of his presidency.
Christie, who centered his unsuccessful White House run on a New Hampshire strategy, will be speaking remotely to Center Right Coalition, organized by former state Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien and current NHGOP state party chair Steve Stepanek. The twice-monthly meetings bring disparate elements of the state’s right-of-center politics together for strategy and information sharing.
Christie shrugged off a question from NHJournal about the 2024 POTUS race (“When I make a decision, New Hampshire will be first to know”). But it’s no coincidence a recent speaker to the same group was likely White House hopeful Sen. Tom Cotton (R.- Ark.)
As for the future of his party, Christie believes that not only is Republican unity possible, but it’s absolutely vital. And he dismisses the argument that the “Trump” issue must be resolved for the GOP to unite.
“We have to unite, not behind personalities, but behind issues. The more we’re worried about personalities, three years out from a presidential election, the worse off we’re going to be. While we’re arguing about personalities, Joe Biden is passing trillions of dollars in spending and expanding the size of government to a size we will never be able to reduce if we let it go on.
“So we’ve got to get united behind issues, and worry less about, uh, the personality parades,” Christie said.
One of those winning issues, according to Christie, is schools and the impact of Democrats’ mismanagement of COVID and the classroom. As a Republican who was able to win two terms in a blue state with a large suburban population, Christie believes the politics of education have shifted during the pandemic.
“All through the campaign, Joe Biden said ‘follow the science’ — until the science came at odds with what the teachers’ unions wanted. And then all of a sudden he didn’t want to follow the science,” Christie said.
“All the science has shown that children are the least vulnerable population to the COVID virus. And the science has also shown you’re much less likely to get COVID in a classroom than you are in your normal community interactions. Schools should have reopened across the country a long time ago.
“This is an important issue for the future of our children. And that’s what mothers and fathers in the suburbs understand,” Christie said. “When it came down to a choice between the education of our children or the comfort of the teacher’s union, Joe Biden and the Democrats picked the comfort of the teachers’ union.”
Christie also weighed in on the New Hampshire debate over Right To Work legislation currently before the state legislature.
“Every Republican should be standing up for the right of every state to make that determination on their own,” Christie said. “This is what I’m talking about: A bigger and bigger federal government trying to intrude more and more on the decisions of the states. And as a former governor, I think states should be making their own decisions. There shouldn’t be any federal overriding on labor issues that each state make for the best interests of their own people.”
While Christie wasn’t willing to talk 2024, NHGOP insiders told NHJournal he’s a candidate with potential.
“Say what you will about Chris Christie, but he believes in New Hampshire and cares about the First in the Nation primary,” said veteran GOP strategist Michael Dennehy. “He is also respected for being a guy who tells it like it is without worrying about who he’s offending.”
Tom Rath, considered the dean of New Hampshire politics, agrees Christie’s reputation for straight talk can play well in the Granite State.
“He’s pretty candid and New Hampshire likes that,” Rath said. “Still, he’ll have to explain his complicated relationship with Donald Trump. But he’s doing the smart thing– getting out and kicking the tires. And this is the job of the New Hampshire primary: Give potential candidates a hearing.”