As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions seem to be on the upsurge according to a recent poll released by Quinnipiac University this week, he appears committed to keeping his position on immigration secret unless he is elected the GOP flag-bearer in the 2016 elections. The poll results indicate that he would be in the number two spot behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush if Mitt Romney decides not to run.
Immigration has become a hot issue for both the Republican and Democratic Parties. President Obama’s recent executive order that granted some undocumented immigrants relief from deportation has only made it harder for the Republican Party to reach a consensus as presidential candidates remain wary of making statements that will turn away Latino voters.
Christie struggles to find a safe middle ground on the immigration issue as he considers a presidential run in 2016. When asked where he stood on the issue of undocumented immigrants during a trip to Mexico in September, he is reported by CNN to have said that this was a matter for the federal government to fix, and he will only state his position if he decides to run for presidential office in 2016.
The poll results indicate a change in fortunes for Christie. He seemed to have lost some traction last year when he was mentioned as having been aware of the decision by some members of his staff to close some lanes of the George Washington Bridge for unnecessary repairs while the real intention was to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not supporting him in his 2012 gubernatorial bid.
Two lanes at the mouth of the bridge in Fort Lee were closed, leading to heavy traffic that interfered with children getting to school. The closures also kept medical teams from attending to emergencies in a timely manner.
Several investigations were conducted. Bridget Anne, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, and David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority, lost their jobs. Even though his name was cleared, some political pundits lowered his chances of being elected as the Republican Party flag-bearer in 2016.
A story published in the National Journal indicated that the governor’s responses on illegal immigration, over the years, have been either absurd or candid. The writer said that the governor has responded to questions from reporters with blank stares or even by running to a waiting car. Chris Christie has remained mum on his immigration position, sending signals that he will keep this to himself unless he is elected to be the GOP flag-bearer
The writer referred to several occasions when Christie flip-flopped in his responses. For instance, when running for the Governor’s office in 2009, he said he opposed giving in-state tuition to children who were brought to the U.S illegally. He said at the time that the in-state tuition was a benefit to those who pay taxes.
He maintained the same position in 2013 during a debate with Governor Rick Perry of Texas who was in favor of giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. Perry told him was heartless. Christie told Perry that there was nothing heartless about his position.
After being elected as the New Jersey Governor for a second term in 2012, Christie changed his mind and signed the bill allowing illegal immigrants in-state tuition in New Jersey in December 2013. Last November he appeared on ABC television. George Stephanopoulos, the host of This week with George Stephanopoulos, asked Christie if he still supported a pathway to citizenship as he had done in a previous appearance on the show. Christie was non-committal.
Following Republican wins in the recent mid-term elections, Gov. Chris Christie appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, where he advised President Barrack Obama against taking a unilateral decision on immigration. He advised the president to work with the Congress.
Two weeks later he met the newly elected leaders in the House of Congress in Washington D.C on Nov. 17. The National Review reported that Christie did not bring up the issue of immigration. Chris Christie continues to remain mum on his position on immigration unless he is elected the GOP flag-bearer.
Opinion by Benedicto Ateku