December 7th, 2012
08:47 AM ET
5 years ago

Christie defends Obama praise on 'Daily Show'

(CNN) – Chris Christie's praise of President Barack Obama following this fall's devastating storm doesn't mean the acerbic New Jerseyite has changed his ways – it just means Obama got it right.

So said Christie in an interview on "The Daily Show" Thursday, in which the Garden State governor said his past criticism of the president wasn't necessarily at odds with his newfound appreciation for Obama's leadership.

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Jon Stewart questioned Christie on the sudden shift, joking that before the storm the governor was claiming Obama "couldn't lead his way out of a paper bag with a fistful of 20s."

"And then right after the storm was over you were like, 'This man is a leader,'" the comedian continued. "Doesn't that tell you something about the game?"

Christie countered: "What it tells me is that people have different skill sets at different times."

"I see. So he wasn't a leader until you needed leadership," Stewart probed.

Christie, in a signature retort, shot back: "Maybe until he was presented with a stark opportunity to lead."

While the storm may have given Obama a "stark opportunity to lead," it also presented Christie with a chance to display both bipartisanship and effectiveness as governor. He said his skyrocketing approval ratings – which stood above 70% in some polls taken after the storm – were likely due to his storm response, but that they'd come back down to Earth in the coming weeks.

"Some people believe, or a lot of people believe, that I reacted in a way that they found pleasing in the storm, that I showed leadership. But I also know that all that's temporary. You go way up and then you go back down," Christie said.

And while the Republican governor admitted the storm had "humbled" him in certain ways, he said his sharp tongue wasn't going anywhere.

"I'll be very harsh of people who I think are out of line or stupid," he said by way of defense against Stewart, who questioned whether Christie's confrontational tone hurt his chances of accomplishing important compromises.

"I don't mince words," Christie said, adding that trait didn't make him "non-humble, it makes me honest."

That forthright attitude had Stewart looking ahead: "You and Hillary are going to have a hell of a battle in 2016," he said. "People are so starved. The beautiful thing about the Republican Party now is it's so starved for leadership like that."

Christie glossed right over the mention of a presidential bid – something he considered in the 2012 cycle but ultimately bypassed. He did get one last jab in, however, aimed both at his host and at himself.

"I think it's really unfair that you look at me and say starved at the same time," Christie said.

Filed under: Chris Christie
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I'll give Christie some props. At least he knows that his approval rating won't stay that high.

    December 7, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Marry

    Sometimes Christie is funny – sometimes not at all! Still a Republican...

    December 7, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  3. Data Driven

    Re: the 2016 chatter: yeah, but will the wingnuts vote for him in the primaries? They appear to not be humbled after Romney lost last month. In any case, this is all moot unless and until Christie loses weight - an uncomfortable but very real fact.

    December 7, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  4. MaryM

    If Hillary does not run in 2016, I would vote for Christi with Cory Booker as VP.

    December 7, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Do you think the hard right will be able to pause long enough in their hatred of Christie to notice that he's a conservative who's popular in a traditionally blue state?

    December 7, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Glad that he stood by his praise.
    Very, VERY un-Republican-like.

    By the way Stewart, the majority of the country, as was CLEARLY and unequivocably evident in the last election, trusts and respects THIS President. We apppreciate his leadership and the way that he has exposed and subjected himself to all of the hate, magnifying glass, and obstruction of the Right with unsurpassed statesman-like demeanot. He's made being intelligent and classy cool again. He's a masterful chess-player surrounded by a bunch of checkers.
    He has quite effectively satisfied our THIRST for all of these things, and has moreover proven himself to be fully committed to improving the lot of ALL of the peoples of this great nation.
    He's already viewed as one of the very best Presidents this country has EVER seen. History will solidify that position.
    So Mr. Stewart, we THIRST FOR NOTHING.
    Forward America.

    December 7, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. jpmichigan

    Yes Christy, the photo-op was great, but the follow through by the President was and is a disaster.

    December 7, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. patNY

    The only way I would vote for Christie is if he can accomplish one task – moderate the Republican party, i.e., cut off the tea partiers, move away from divisive social wedge issues, and come up with something else other than tax cuts for the rich paid for by middle class and poor working class benefit program cuts in Soc. Sec., Medicare, Medicaid, and the environment. Also, the Dem. nominee would have be some weak hack along the lines of Mondale or Dukakis. And, the only sollace I would have in a Pres. Christie, is having a fellow Northeasterner in the WH.

    December 7, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "People are so starved. The beautiful thing about the Republican Party now is it's so starved for leadership like that."

    I don't know ... it might just be me ... I just don't see Chris Christie as a party leader.

    Hillary Clinton as a leader, yes. Chris Christie, no ... not so much.

    December 7, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  10. sifto

    ask the people of staten island if obama has been a leader.....

    December 7, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F

    Wingnuts will never be happy. Since most are uninformed, they blame the president for bad news when there isn't any. They send the NRA money whenever LaPierre says Obama will take away their guns. The GOP is made up of birthers, baggers, bigots, climate deniers, seniors who want their social security taken away, 15% think Mittens got bin Laden, 25% want to secede from the United States but still want their nanny state welfare, 50% think trickle down economics works, a majority thinks that tax cuts for the wealthy will eventually create jobs, Iraq had WMDs, etc. It might be easier to teach a slug to sing opera, than to have a right wingnut face reality.

    December 7, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    BAM! Christie love affair is over. Don't forget. It was Gov. Christie who cancelled the NJ portion of the tunnel that was to serve a multi-state high speed rail system. It killed hundreds of jobs, not mention prolonged enacting solutions to traffic congestion.

    Christie claimed that project would go over budget. The rail tunnel was part of the final phases of the project, which has been going for years within its' budget. Since hundreds of millions had been built constructing stations and railways right up to the water's edge, New Jersey had to re-imburse the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars for money wasted on a rail system to nowhere.

    Christie found the money by cutting education, and by cutting taxes for the job creators. His state education board also missed out on $400 million federal aid because they were incompetent in how they filled out the paper work. The errors were pointed out, they were given a chance to correct it, the declined to make corrections claiming everything was in order, and as a result their application was rejected. Once again, Christe made up the difference by cutting more dollars from education.

    December 7, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Emerson

    Christie is a politician which means its all about him. He does not seem to notice the irony of beligerently screaming for low taxes and less government and then begging the federal government for money to bail out his state. Maybe, just maybe, he will learn that we are all in this together, not just the rich and the politicians and lobbyists who serve them.

    December 7, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Lynda/Minnesota:
    don't know ... it might just be me ... I just don't see Chris Christie as a party leader.

    Hillary Clinton as a leader, yes. Chris Christie, no ... not so much
    No it's not just you Lynda.
    I saw a side of him that would not serve any president well: he's bully.
    He was a bully/hitman for Romney, for Rmoney for God's sakes, and that told me that he had put Party over country like the rest of them.
    He revised his views of the President not only because the President had done the "right thing" during Sandy but also, I believe, because he couldn't afford to alienate the ONLY hand that would feed him, so to speak.
    His claim that up and until Sandy the President hadn't gotten anything right, and had failed to lead (bin Laden, Lybia anyone) was a bunch of rightwing lunatic crap.

    December 7, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  15. Rick McDaniel

    Christie is really a Democrat. He will change parties. He is not a conservative.

    December 7, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. quinLee

    Meanwhile…Fox is leading with an “Exclusive” story trashing FEMA during Sandy response. Nothing about the jobs report on the main page, but they did manage to squeeze in a George Zimmerman piece between the tabloids. What? No Benghazi today!?!.

    December 7, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. RainCityLady

    So THIS is the best the GOP can do in 2016? Big deal.....and I do mean BIG. He is what he is, and no comment about Obama's help during the storm will change that. Yuck.

    December 7, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  18. norma jean

    I rhink it's lugicrous that Chrisitie has been made to feel he needs to apologize for appreciating the presidents attention during the recent disaster. Whether you like either one of them. or unimportant. THere was a major catastrophe and the president was there to help. If he hadn't been there we would have had a whole bunch of complainers anyway!!!!! Get over your self proclaimed importance!!!!!

    December 7, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. Baboo

    Christie should take the NY Jets head coach job: he can handle a disaster and he's fat. (Wish I could take credit for that).

    December 7, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. MakesSense

    The Stewart / Christie interview was excellent. Go to The Daily Show's website and watch it. Two people challenging each other without any hurt feelers. Imagine that.

    December 7, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. pcalif

    Just because a person is of another party, religion, ideology, etc. doesn't mean you have to hate them. Of course, the Tea Party and most of the GOP today don't espouse that philosophy.

    December 7, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. ricardo1968

    A 2016 run would have been complicated by a Romney presidency. Just sayin'.

    December 7, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. mlr

    Christie lost my vote and my families... He threw the party under the bus... he won't get the party back in 4 years.... Tee ups someone else please..

    December 7, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. kiskakodiak

    Although I'm a die-hard dem, I like Christie, and would seriously consider voting for him if he ran. And I was also wondering, as another poster said, if he won't get tired of the GOP and jump parties. I do think he's one of the few people - mabye only - who could give the GOP their desperately needed attitude adjustment. (Not that I have much sympathy for the woes of the GOP right now...the way I see it, they totally brought it on themselves.) His main job is to take care of his constituents, and that's what he has been trying to do. If Christie walked on water somebody, somewhere, would have a problem with it.

    December 7, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. ST

    Christie can be a hard worker, likes to work with the opposition side BUT his temperament doesn't make him fit for the higher Office more than he holds now.

    December 7, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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