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

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs