Christie, Telling It Like It Is

Over the past year, I’ve heard Gov. Chris Christie speak at two events, but never in a town hall. In fact, in all my years of volunteering in politics and attending events, I had never been to a real town hall and what better time than Dec. 30 in between two snow storms in Waukee, Iowa?

Gov. Chris Christie speaks to a packed house at Mickey’s Irish Pub in Waukee during his third town hall of the day. (Photo Credit: Richard Dedor)

I arrived 45 minutes early and Mickey’s Irish Pub was already packed. 55 minutes later when the governor entered, it was shoulder to shoulder.

Standing among watching eyes, I realized, after all the years of seeing town halls on television and in the newspapers, I was at one, finally. And Christie did not disappoint.

Living in New York City from 2011–2014, I got to “see” Christie up close. I was there during the bridge scandal. And I was there when he honestly and emphatically told a protester to “sit down and shut up!”

That’s Christie. Honest. Direct. But humble.

The audience had good questions and each time Christie neared the end of an answer — oftentimes a long-winded answer — I raised my hand hoping to get a question in.

“I am a member of the Millennial generation. In the last year I have started a new job, gotten married, and bought a house. In order to do all those things my husband and I had to budget and plan. You’ve been tough on entitlements and federal spending … what is your comment on the just passed omnibus bill?”

I was ready and excited. But someone beat me to it. Their question was more wide-ranging and asked about the debt in general, but something Christie said in response caught my attention.

Gov. Christie answers an audience question in Waukee on Wednesday night. (Photo Credit: Richard Dedor)

He said that for every dollar the federal government spends, 71 cents goes towards entitlements or debt service and yet all any of the candidates are talking about is the 29 other cents we spend. (I haven’t independently verified this, but it struck a cord with me.)

It is a staggeringly high number; not to mention the new $2 trillion dollars the omnibus bill adds to our debt over the next decade.

I made it clear at the beginning of this caucus season that the budget was my number one issue and that has not changed. If anything, it has only become a stronger factor in how I will caucus.