Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Somber Christie's Advice Is Ironic

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Somber Christie's Advice Is Ironic

Article excerpt

Governor Christie delivered a homily on the virtue of hard work to a beaming crowd of Newark elementary school kids Wednesday -- without the usual crescendo-building fervor of his town hall events.

This was a monotone, somber Christie who seemed to be going through the paces of a routine chore.

"My mother told me the entire time growing up that God gave you many gifts and if I was willing to work hard enough I could be anything I wanted to be," Christie said at the Elliott Street Elementary School ribbon cutting ceremony in the city's North Ward.

That may have been useful advice for the students, and some will certainly cherish the memory of having an erstwhile presidential candidate lecture them in their new auditorium.

But for the Newark political elite who filled the first two rows and the press who filled the back of the room, it was hard to ignore the irony of Christie's advice -- that all his hard work pursuing the presidency didn't pay off. Christie is not going to be who he wanted to be.

He's now the defeated candidate returning to his day job as governor, facing a stack of daunting problems and an increasingly hostile, home-state crowd. A governor who normally thrives on stage and in front of a receptive crowd, Christie has kept a low profile. Wednesday's event was only the second public appearance since ending his presidential quest on Feb. 10.

Christie is leaving the political establishment guessing about his next career moves. Will he leave? Will he stay on the job until his term expires in January 2018 with a new legacy and rekindled hopes of a second attempt at the White House?

Christie didn't stick around to take those questions - or to offer any post-mortem insights about his campaign. During his recent campaign, Christie chastised Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for refusing to take tough questions from the press corps; in Newark he was whisked away before reporters could catch up to him.

Christie's quick departure suddenly put Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., a Democrat and a close Christie ally, on the spot to serve as a de facto spokesman. DiVincenzo, who was part of bi-partisan axis of political power brokers who collaborated with Christie in his first term, said Christie has made it clear to him in recent conversations that he intends to stay on the job.

"He's already talking about things that he wants to get done and he wants to move this state forward. He's excited and he's going to finish his two years," DiVincenzo said. He expects Christie to "be coming out with town hall meetings and he's going to be on the campaign stump. He's not going to be hiding."

Still, Christie's swift departure -- without wading into the crowd to take selfies with the kids and faculty, without staying to cut the scarlet ribbon with an oversized scissors -- represented a complete reversal from his triumphant return to his native Newark a day after winning the governor's seat in 2009. …

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