WASHINGTON (CBS 2) — Conservatives love him. Liberals despise him.
On Wednesday New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was shooting from the hip on a topic no politician will touch — Social Security, and whether to raise the retirement age.
It was Christie unplugged, reports CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.
The governor who tells it like it is brought his swagger to Washington and accused lawmakers of swapping honesty for job security.
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“What game being played down here is irresponsible and it’s dangerous,” Christie said. “The old playbook says lie, deceive, obfuscate, make it to the next election.”
In his first major speech in Washington, Christie argued the country is spending its way into ruin because lawmakers won’t make tough choices. Then using, his trademark sarcasm, grabbed the third rail of politics.
“You’re going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Oh, I just said it and I still am standing here. I did not vaporize into the carpet and I said it,” Christie said.
Christie also called for Medicaid reform, saying states were headed towards bankruptcy without it. Then the former U.S. Attorney mocked President Barack Obama’s big things like high speed Internet or electric cars.
“Ladies and gentleman, that is the candy of American politics,” Christie said.
And Christie said the bitter pill of reality is needed to fix the country’s ills.
“We are teetering on the edge of disaster,” Christie said.
The speech reinforced the notion this tough talking governor is galvanizing politics.
“Everyone in Washington is afraid to deal with those issues. Christie called them on it and he scored big points,” political analyst Steve Adubato said.
And he’s doing the same with some, but not all of his constituents.
“I agree with him. I’m behind him,” one person said.
“I just think he’s a little too hard-driven in a negative way,” said Laura Green of Montclair, N.J.
“I’m not a fan. I’m not a fan,” said Tony James of Jersey City.
But so many are fans, prompting another question about a run for president.
“I said what do I have to do short of suicide to convince people I’m not running? Apparently I actually have to commit suicide,” Christie said to laughter.
Christie said his poll numbers are actually rising, saying he’s more popular now than he was the day he got elected.
The lesson for lawmakers?
Making tough decisions doesn’t mean political ruin.
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