Christie scrutinized for cameo in NJ tourism ad
May 20th, 2013
09:29 AM ET
11 months ago

Christie scrutinized for cameo in NJ tourism ad

(CNN) – New Jersey Democrat and gubernatorial hopeful Barbara Buono released a new web video Monday–but it's not the ad getting the most attention in the Garden State these days.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie is taking heat for his role in a new tourism ad for his state following the devastating impact of Superstorm Sandy.

The television commercial, released last week, is part of a $25 million tourism campaign using federal funds to promote the Jersey Shore this summer.

So what's the problem?

Christie, who's running for re-election this year, makes a cameo in the 30-second spot, prompting some critics to say the potential 2016 presidential contender is using federal taxpayer dollars to boost his political image.

After Congress delayed sending tens of billions in relief aid to Northeastern states at the beginning of this year, Christie went on a blistering critique of Washington lawmakers during a now-famous press conference.

"We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans," he said, adding politics was trumping the needs of U.S. citizens. "For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch."

The Star-Ledger in New Jersey noted in a biting editorial Sunday that it's not the people who are most bouncing back from the story who get to star in the tourism ad–it's the state's governor, who already gets plenty of air time and positive ratings as the public face of state recovery efforts.

"(It's) not the small business owners working to get back on their feet. Not shore residents trying to rebuild, or their kids," the editorial stated. "Not even celebrities, as in the 'Fall in Love with Louisiana All Over Again ad campaign after Hurricane Katrina, which featured local stars who participated for free. Were Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi simply unavailable?"

Christie may face more questions Monday when he makes a media appearance on the Lavallette Boardwalk.

The governor and his family appear in the ad for about five seconds at the end, as they sit on the shore and declare the state is "stronger than the storm."

Christie has argued in defense that "there's nothing political about the ads" and his aides point out that the commercials won't even be running in New Jersey itself, according to the Star Ledger.

But the editorial asked that "given Christie's presidential ambitions, is it any surprise that he'd use federal relief dollars to splash his face all over TV in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Canada – in addition to ads in print, on the radio and Internet?"

Colin Reed, a spokesman for the governor, told CNN the move was a creative decision by the Stronger Than The Storm campaign to include Christie and his wife in the ad.

"They are in a uniquely qualified position to tell a very wide audience beyond New Jersey that our state and our Shore is open for business," he said.

Christie saw a surge in his poll numbers during the aftermath of the storm, a popularity that he's maintained in the last six months.

Recent surveys also indicate the governor has a strong advantage over his Democratic opponent in this year's gubernatorial race.

In Buono's new web ad, the state senator takes a light-hearted approach in telling voters how to say her often-mispronounced name. She has been vastly outspent by Christie in ads.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. THE TRUTH

    Sheldon adleson donated over 160 mmillion to the gop, in one election cycle, gop is letting big money buy our government, ciitizens united is the biggest blow to democracy. never will our government function properly again, if you dont get money out of our politics, we will be their slaves.

    May 20, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  2. Norm

    I can see if you are a Democrat having a problem with the ad because you need to attack Christie for something because in November you lose. A governor appearing in a state tourism commercial is very normal. Dem's have a problem because it promotes the governor in a positive manner and they can't stand that.

    May 20, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Anonymous

    He represents NJ–He should be in the ad

    May 20, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. Ken

    Governors appear in tourism spots for their states all of the time, whether it's the regional one for states devastated by the oil spill (for the south) or NJs, it's pretty common. I'm a happy liberal dem, but even I can see there's nothing notable in this one... she's gonna get trounced by Christie, so she's throwing whatever she can at the wall to see what sticks.

    May 20, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. Bill

    Where is the outrage when other governors appear in tourism ads for their states?

    May 20, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. JohnnyInSNJ

    Pretty sure every state does that. Who cares.

    May 20, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    QUESTION: Why would Christie take federal relief dollars and make a video?

    ANSWER: To make himself look good. "I'm fighting for you, New Jersey."

    May 20, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Jen wrote:

    I like Christie and I think the commercial shows that he does care for the People of New Jersey....:)
    -----------------
    Exactly. That's the take way from the ad. Which is exactly why it is more of a political ad than anything else.

    May 20, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. jim

    i am democrat but this is silly. The guy is the governor of the state for gods sake. He is also a colorful character that has high visibility. Its completely appropriate that he is in the ad..my fellow dems need to take a chill pill

    May 20, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. NameTim

    I remember seeing several ads on TV promoting California Tourism that featured Arnold and Maria when he was in office. Never found those to be political. How is this different?

    May 20, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. grist

    I am a deomocrat ok with the ad. A role of governers is to promote tourism which is good for the state. I disagree with him on a lot of things, but not this. No big deal.

    May 20, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. SkyKing169

    I don't think he will have a problem being re-elected.
    His coarse, brash, disrespectful manner may be totally inappropriate for the White House, but it is an excellent fit in New Jersey.
    I actually like this guy. I don't think the ad makes a bit of difference in his re-election effort. But it does make a difference in reviving the economy of the area devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

    May 20, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. John McShea

    I like Chris Christie as a person despite the political party he belongs to. It's nice to see a governor who actually cares about his state. I don't get this over-sensitive media. Follow a real story please.

    May 20, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. Bill Smells

    Christy is the best thing to happen to NJ.

    He's the governor, he represents the state. Why not put him in front of the camera? We elected him to lead, so let him lead the call to return to the shore.

    Regardless of this particular tourism advertisement, he's crushing his opponent in the polls, in popularity, and in demonstrated leadership. The Democrats in NJ don't have a candidate strong enough to make a difference in the election. NJ elected him to office, and NJ will reelect him to office regardless of this ad.

    May 20, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    grist wrote

    I am a deomocrat ok with the ad. A role of governers is to promote tourism which is good for the state. I disagree with him on a lot of things, but not this. No big deal.
    ------------------
    Have you even watched the ad? The ad is not about tourism, it's about Christie leading the storm recovery effort.

    May 20, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Patricia Shelton

    Any more it seems that people look for things to get upset about – national or state levels. Republicans with the IRS which should upset everyone BUT the Republicans have asked the IRS to give extra attention to the AARP. So Republican outrage is all show since they want something done for political reasons they ASSUME the attention given conservative groups must also be political instead of just stupidity. And now Democrats with Christie – if there was an ad and he was not in it those same Democrats would be upset because he wasn't doing enough to help the state recover. I am so tired of each party being so negative about everything regarding the other party. How about they remember that a democracy is a collaborative with compromise effort that the Framers of the Constitution expected and as citizens that we deserve. We do not need the hyper negative and accomplishing zip because the parties have gone crazy with hate.

    May 20, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Mary

    Darn, I remember Maria Shriver and Governor Schwarzeneger drinking wine over a beautiful California landscape, inviting everyone to come to their beautiful state. What's the big deal?

    May 20, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Charmer

    I have no problem with him being in any advertising campaign for tourism, and as governor there are many instances where this has been done. The only problem is that he is using federal money to run the ad campaign, but even so, I don't care that much.

    May 20, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. Jason

    This really doesn't seem any different than any other state tourism ad. If they had Bon Jovi instead, the headline would be "Why is Christie too busy to appear in NJ ad like every other governor". Some people need lives.

    May 20, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. James PDX

    For once, I couldn't care about something a politician did. If Christie appearing in the ad was deemed likely to help tourism bounce back, then he did the right thing for his state by agreeing to it. If he stands to benefit from it, then good for him. Now if he was the one who made the call to place himself in the ad, then I'd have a problem.

    May 20, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Sas

    Jodi Rell did it all the time....they are promoting tourism!!!!

    May 20, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Bill D

    "Christie, who's running for re-election this year, makes a cameo in the 30-second spot, prompting some critics to say the potential 2016 presidential contender is using federal taxpayer dollars to boost his political image."

    The 64 million dollar question is, did he request to be in the ads, or did some neutral person ask him to be in the ads?

    May 20, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    That's such stupidity, it isn't worth discussing.

    Christie isn't doing anything any other governor hasn't done, to try and overcome adversity in their state, in the tourism industry.

    It has nothing to do with the political aspirations. Indeed he is using what public image he has acquired, to try to influence people to buy into his tourism encouragements. It is exactly the opposite of what this article claims.

    May 20, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Joe Smith

    For crying out loud, can't we all just stop politicizing EVERYTHING? I'm a liberal democrat, and I'm getting sick of it, no matter which side it's coming from.

    May 20, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Hillary Clinton LANDSLIDE 2016!

    May 20, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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