All eyes were on New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) on Tuesday afternoon, as he delivered his fifth State of the State address.
This year’s address was notably different from those he delivered in past years – and not in a good way.
The Republican governor once again had to confront the two scandals plaguing his second term: the politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September, and the federal investigation into his handling of relief funds in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
In his opening remarks, Christie assured the audience – and listeners nationwide – that his administration “will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure this breach of trust does not happen again.”
“But I also want to assure the people of New Jersey today that what has occurred does not define us or our state. This administration and this legislature will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the people’s lives in New Jersey to be delayed,” he continued. “I am the leader of this state and its people and I stand here today proud to be both and always determined to do better.”
The governor also admitted that “mistakes were clearly made” and conceded that he and his administration “let down the people we are entrusted to serve.”
Recent polls, however, show that although a majority of New Jersey adults do not believe Christie has been “completely honest” about his knowledge of the George Washington Bridge incident, an overwhelming 60 percent of Americans nationwide say their opinion of the goevrnor remains the same even after the two scandals.
But just because the public seems uninterested in the ongoing Christie saga does not make it any less of a threat to the potential Republican presidential nominee’s political ambitions. If either of the two separate inquiries find that Christie misused Sandy relief funds to promote his gubernatorial campaign or that he lied about his involvement in or knowledge of the lane closure plans as an act of retaliation against Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich (D) – who did not endorse Christie when he ran for re-election — the governor’s reputation is sure to be tarnished, and his political aspirations will most likely never become a reality.
Though Christie continuously denies that he participated in or was aware of the lane closures, he did state, “I am the governor and I am ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch.”
He then quickly moved on from the scandals and focused the rest of his address on his policy agenda, which involved education reform, crime reduction, and property-tax relief.
Watch Chris Christie’s entire State of the State address below:
Video: NJTV via YouTube
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr