News / USA

New Jersey's Christie Again Apologizes, Looks Ahead

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers his State Of The State address at the Statehouse in Trenton, Jan. 14, 2014.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers his State Of The State address at the Statehouse in Trenton, Jan. 14, 2014.
Reuters
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opened his State of the State Address on Tuesday with an apology and a vow to fully cooperate with “all appropriate” investigations of an apparent scheme to cause massive traffic jams as well as the use of federal money for a state ad campaign.
 
Christie - a charismatic conservative and an early favorite in the Republican bid for the White House in 2016, was re-elected in a landslide victory last November - but the pair of scandals coming in the first weeks of the year have put him on the defensive.
 
“The last week has certainly tested this administration. Mistakes were clearly made. And as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted to serve,” Christie said. “Without a doubt, we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again.”
 
Two sets of emails last week appeared to show that Christie's aides had orchestrated lane closures for several days last September on a stretch of highway leading to the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan, and then lied about it.
 
Christie has denied any knowledge of the apparent orchestration to snarl traffic at the bridge as political payback against the Democratic mayor of the nearby city of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for his refusal to endorse Christie's gubernatorial bid.
 
But the governor's speech mostly addressed the “Jersey Comeback,” which Christie has long claimed has resulted in private-sector jobs and secured public-private investment in the Garden State, and his cooperation with the Democrat-controlled state legislature.
 
“No state in this country has shown more bipartisan cooperation and governance over the last four years than New Jersey and our people are proud of it. Let's resolve today that we will continue to put those people first. We will do our jobs,” Christie said.
 
“These are our achievements: Four balanced budgets. Passed with bipartisan support. Pension reform and tenure reform. Passed with bipartisan support. A cap on property taxes. Passed with bipartisan support,” Christie said. “We acted and we acted together.”
 
Christie also gave a nod to an issue that was at the top of his agenda in his first term - an across-the-board tax cut - though he said he will wait to announce specific ideas when he gives his budget address next month.
 
The state's economy has seen signs of improvement over the last several months. Its unemployment rate experienced the largest monthly drop on record in November, dropping 0.6 percentage point to 7.8 percent, according to the state labor department.
 
Revenue has also been recovering steadily. In the first five months of fiscal 2014, which began on July 1, New Jersey took in 7.9 percent more revenue - from income, sales, corporate and other taxes - than in the same period the prior fiscal year. But that is still 1.2 percent, or $98 million, under budget.
 
Still, the state's fiscal situation and Christie's ideas for improving it could be overshadowed by his response to the scandals and speculation about his political future.
 
Since taking office four years ago, Christie - a former federal prosecutor - has built a national reputation as a Republican capable of winning bipartisan support for his conservative priorities, like spending cuts, while repairing New Jersey's reputation for corruption and graft.
 
Taken down a peg
 
A prolific fundraiser for GOP officials and candidates across the country, Christie has taken on a leadership role with the Republican Governor's Association. But the brewing scandals threaten to tarnish that reputation and Christie's national appeal.
 
A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed the bridge closure scandal had taken a toll on Christie's image, with 26 percent of those asked saying they were now less favorable toward him, compared with 3 percent who said they were more favorable and 41 percent, whose view was the same.
 
More respondents believed he had a hand in the scandal, with 31 percent saying they thought he was aware his staff intentionally caused the traffic jam, compared with 28 percent, who said they believed his statements that he was in the dark. The poll included responses from 986 people contacted Jan. 10-14 and had a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
 
The poll showed Christie was effectively tied among Republicans and independents among possible GOP candidates, backed by 18 percent of those asked, narrowly leading Congressman Paul Ryan, who was favored by 17 percent of respondnents, according to results from 771 polled Jan. 10-14. That result had a credibility interval of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
 
Democrats, who control both houses of the New Jersey state legislature, have called a special session to address the traffic scandal.
 
Meanwhile, a New Jersey Democrat has requested a federal probe into the use of storm relief funds for an ad campaign, intended to draw visitors back to the Jersey Shore, that featured Christie as he was seeking re-election.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs