Governor Christie: Style
Governor Chris Christie answers a question regarding his ‘style’ while talking with seniors at a town hall meeting in Linden, N.J. on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 (Transcript Below)
Governor Christie: Lastly on my style—now listen, here’s the thing: maybe this will help explain to you a little bit.
I have an Irish father and I had before she passed away six years ago a Sicilian mother.
Now for those of you who have been exposed to the combination of Irish and Sicilian, it has made me not unfamiliar with conflict. In my house my parents left nothing unsaid, and we heard most of it and often it was at a pretty high volume. So part of it is who I am and where I come from, and I think for all of us our personalities are in large degree a product of who our parents are, how we grew up, and my parents always taught me not to be afraid of a conflict, that if in fact it was something that was important to you that you should speak your mind and you should confront problems head on and not sweep them under the carpet. Now sometimes maybe I just confront them too head on, and sometimes maybe when I say exactly what I think that that makes people a little bit uneasy. But what I can tell you is that I’ve watched people in public life in New Jersey over my lifetime and so many of them have been afraid or unwilling to speak their mind because they’re looking for an escape hatch. If they don’t tell you exactly what they’re thinking then it’s hard for you to hold them to a promise or what they say, and so they try to say nothing to you and when they say nothing to you and then you say hey wait, you didn’t do what you said you were going to do, they say I didn’t say I was going to do anything. What are you talking about? I didn’t say that, or I didn’t say this. So I’ve decided because the times are so difficult and the problems are so big that I’ve decided to take the approach of being very direct and very blunt and not mince my words. Now at times that’s going to put some people off. I understand that, and there are times when the press will like to focus more on style than on substance and I get that too and that’s what you’re exposed to because, listen, there’s 8.4 million people in New Jersey and not all of them get to meet me like you’re getting to meet me today. I had one woman back here say— this is my highlight of the day by the way, absolutely made it worthwhile to come to Linden, and for no other reason, that she said to me you’re so much better looking in person. You don’t normally get that, you know? And I certainly don’t.
So listen, even though the mayor thinks it’s been six months it’s only been four months, and I think that it’s going to take some time for us to get used to each other. The relationship between the citizens and their Governor is a very personal one. People elected me because they were counting on me to do something to help fix the state, and so because it’s such a personal relationship people develop real opinions about you, and so luckily for me I don’t just have four months, I have four years and I think over time you’ll see as I think you’ve seen this morning that I have a sense of humor, and I’m not angry. I’m just determined, and you know sometime being determined and being direct comes off as being angry to some people, and for those people I hope they give me a chance to show them on the substance what I can accomplish as Governor by being direct, by being approachable, and by saying when I say I mean something I mean it and I’m willing to fight for it because government’s not supposed to be a tea party. I mean you have folks in the Legislature from the Democratic Party and from the Republican Party who have very sure opinions about things, and they feel very strongly and passionately about them. But we should argue those things out I think and we should argue in public in front of you because the decisions that we make as a result of those arguments affect your lives. We shouldn’t be having those arguments in private. I think we should have them in public so you could all hear what we really think, and then when we make decisions you can hold us accountable for those decisions. You can say I heard what you said. I either agree with it or I don’t and then you can vote accordingly.