Newly announced candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces challenges in his presidential bid and he may not be able to shed them during a 2016 campaign. Christie announced his candidacy today at Livingston High School, his alma mater, with much fanfare and focusing on truth and transparency. Christie becomes the 14th Republican candidate to enter the race.
“I mean what I say and I say what I mean and that’s what America needs right now,” Christie, 52, said while his wife, Mary Pat, and four children stood beside him.
The governor had a disadvantage on the first day of his campaign because another presidential candidate, Gov. Jeb Bush, announced his plans to release 33 years of tax returns. Most pundits believe the timing of Bush’s announcement was meant to overshadow Christie.
Christie’s slogan of “Tell It Like It Is” set the tone for his first speech as a presidential candidate. While his speech took the appropriate balance of enthusiasm and jabs at President Barack Obama and Democratic front-running candidate Hillary Clinton, it did not address many of his own shortcomings that have become apparent over the past four years since Christie launched on the national scene as a potential candidate for the Oval Office.
The candidate did talk about his love of bluntness, but viewed it as an endearing quality. He said his mom taught him that he should not hold anything back in a trusting relationship. Christie views his relationship with the public as that kind of relationship.
Facts and figures are the main problems facing Christie. While he made his presidential bid announcement in a public school, school funding has caused contention between the governor and educators. He cut nearly $1 billion in education spending after he took office in 2010, according to Politifact. The governor did so to close state budget gaps and tighten the state’s belt on spending, but the move resulted in a lawsuit against the state with allegations that the cuts put lower-income students at a disadvantage and violated New Jersey’s constitution. The state was forced by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2011 to spend an additional $500 million for schools in urban, lower income areas. That is only one challenge Christie faces in his presidential bid.
The other major challenge for the newly announced candidate is New Jersey’s economy. It simply has not done well under his leadership. Telling it like it is, the state lost a lot of jobs in the recession and has not recovered from it. Neighboring states Pennsylvania and New York are adding jobs and appear to be on the road to recovery. A data report on New Jersey’s job growth shows the state has only recovered 62 percent of lost jobs. Comparing that to national numbers, the lag is readily apparent. The United States saw a 132 percent recovery, data suggests.
Surveys from the Tax Foundation and chief operating officers state that New Jersey is not a great state for business either. In fact, it is typically ranked as one of the worst states for business and ranks 46th in the country for growth. New Jersey has also sustained several downgrades in credit during his term.
There are a few other problems facing the New Jersey governor as a presidential candidate. Although it appears his love for Obama has paled as he launches his campaign, few will forget the embrace the governor gave the president when Obama visited the state to see the disaster left by Hurricane Sandy. People will likely also not forget the drama over “Bridgegate” where someone in the governor’s office reportedly closed down a bridge because he did not receive support from a local politician. The governor was distanced from the incident.
To hear the Republican make his announcement speech, those items are in the far background. Christie focused on implementing a tough foreign policy and stated there was a “weak and feckless” foreign policy over the past seven years and Clinton would only offer more of the same. Time will tell if his tough talk and telling it like it is will help Christie face challenges in his presidential bid.
Opinion By Melody Dareing
Huffington Post–Chris Christie Slashed Education Funding, but He’s Announcing His Presidential Bid at a Public School
CNN Money–Chris Christie’s Problem: New Jersey’s Economy Isn’t Doing Well
ABC News–Chris Christie Announces 2016 Presidential Campaign With Swipes at Obama, Hillary Clinton
Photo Courtesy of iprimages’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License