Calling a potential candidacy “a grand experiment that might be worth” it for America, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie repeated a now familiar refrain that he has no intention of changing, or rounding off any of his so-called “rough edges” in the event that he opts to run for the White House in 2016.
That came at the end of what was mostly a question and answer session at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s “First in the Nation” leadership summit Friday.
The central theme of Christie’s address, and one to which he kept returning during the Q and A, was entitlement reform. Christie repeatedly made the point that 71 percent of government spending is due to entitlements and criticized as unserious those who talked about cutting government waste without addressing entitlements.
“There is no political advantage” in talking about these issues, insisted Christie, clearly trying to portray himself as someone wanting to take on serious issues, despite how unpopular doing so could prove to be. He emphasized that entitlement reform is key to basically every other policy initiative, given its link to America’s current and long-term financial well being.
In briefly criticizing Barack Obama, Christie said all the president has left now is “the two “L’s” – Legacy and Library. He also cited N.J. cop killer Joanne Chesimard regarding Obama’s overtures to Cuba, given that Cuba was not held to account by Obama for harboring her all these years.
As for his personal style, “Too blunt, too direct, too straight forward we could use a little more of that in D.C.,” said Christie. You will never have to wonder about his positions, or the direction of his leadership, he added during his opening remarks, before taking questions.
Christie cited his newly introduced 12 point plan for entitlement reform. He embraces means testing for Social Security, calling it “an insurance policy against poverty for the elderly.” He also pointed out that disability will be bankrupt by 2016 and pointed to reform in the Netherlands as a model. There, individuals are tasked with developing a rehabilitation program before they go on disability. Stronger guidelines are also required, he added, saying some months during Obama’s presidency more people have gone on disability than have gotten a job in America.
He also endorsed ending the payroll tax for those over the age of 62, to encourage people to keep working if they want to. Christie called his plan “real ideas” and insisted entitlement reform is absolutely critical.
On immigration, he was asked about illegals taking jobs from citizens and securing the borders. “Start there and work backwards,” said Christie, regarding the border. He said he is not for building a so-called wall, adding the issue requires “manpower some fences and some surveillance.” He also advocated setting up a “fair” system that works to go after employers who employ illegals.
In contrast to Perry, Christie doesn’t think you can seal the border. He also doesn’t believe people will self-deport. In effect, Christie seems to be embracing an amnesty, so long as the border is secured first. Saying his experience and record in N.J. are indicative of what he might achieve in the White House, Christie encouraged people to ask of reform candidates, “Have they talked about it or done it? In N.J. we’ve actually done it.”
As for Common Core Christie said its “implementation and effectiveness” are open to question based upon his observations in his state. “The further education gets away from local community the harder it gets for parents to control.” And parents are the most important people in a child’s education, he said.
When asked if speaking “truth to power” can get someone elected to the White House, said Christie, “I don’t know but if I run we’re going to find out because I’m not changing.” Also as to electability, he said, “I’m a Republican in New Jersey, come try that for a couple days,” pointing out that his state hasn’t elected as Republican to the U.S. Senate in 42 years.