Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Christie: Jersey's Fight Is America's Fight
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wowed a huge, overflow crowd at the annual breakfast of the reform-minded Committee of Seventy in Philadelphia today.
In front of more than 600 of Philadelphia business, civic and community leaders in the Grand Ballroom of a downtown hotel. Christie said the current crop of political leaders must give voters the three things that they want now:
1) They want to be treated as adults; 2) They want you to tell them the truth and 3) They want a leader who actually leads.
The Governor said this is what he's tried to do in New Jersey because "leadership matters and if we want to be leaders our most solemn obligation is that we leave things better for our children and grandchildren -- that we leave things better than we found them."
Christie told the assembled guests that "leadership matters; who you vote for matters and how they lead matters. so you need to get involved." The Governor warned that "we're running out of time and we're running our of chances" and he characterized the battled that he's fighting in New Jersey for reform; smaller, more economical government and responsive leadership as a fight "not just for New Jersey's future but for the region's future and for America's future."
"In New Jersey," Christie added, "I'm fighting for a state that you want to live in and you can afford to live in. That's what this battle is about."
The man who some people have called "Governor Wrecking-Ball" says he does not seek confrontation but he's nonetheless "willing to take risks, not just seek rewards."
"I'm a Republican Governor in a state that's overwhelmingly Democrat," Christie explained. "So, I recognize what the odds are. I could have lots of successes and still not be re-elected. I understand that" He explained that there are people who aren't going to be kindly disposed toward him, no matter what he does. "They've compared me to Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, all those great leaders of the past that I love," Christie joked.
The Governor said he doesn't mind his critics but he looks for continued encouragement from those who support his initiatives. "It means a lot," Christie said of such support.
Turning to the subject of education, the Governor once again criticized the tenure system that protects all teachers after three years on the job. "We know that firing bad teachers is something that we ought to do," he said. "I want to help the good teachers. The good teachers are the ones we should carry to work every day on our shoulders. We have to reward great teachers, get rid of bad ones and the ones in the middle we should help make better."
But the Governor said the teacher's union and practices such as tenure prevent this from happening.
"We're letting our kids down and our kids know it," he maintained. "Kids know. They understand. And when we do this, we are stealing from children their hopes, their dreams and their future."
Christie says he's committed to pushing his reform agenda regardless of the outcome.
"I'm the Governor so I know that I'll get an oil portrait of myself on the statehouse wall someday. And the brass plaque under it will show that I served for either four years or eight years. That's a given," he said. "But that's not important. What's important is what I'll be able to tell my grandchildren. I want to be able to tell them that I stood for something, that I didn't compromise my principles, that I accomplished something and that I left things better for them. That's what's important.That's what I'm fighting for," he concluded.
Photos copyright 2010 by Dan Cirucci.