Christie scrutinized for cameo in NJ tourism ad
May 20th, 2013
09:29 AM ET
2 years 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. ThinkAgain

    @Duh: "Our political system is a disaster now that's it's been taken over by extremists from both sides. "

    If you want to get rid of the extremists, get rid of Citizens United. The likes of the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch feed these controversies, throwing money at paranoid dweebs and giving them a soapbox to stand on.

    May 20, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. reasonablebe

    the guy is the face of nj. don't get the criticism at all. his bombastic say it like it is is what nj is about. nothing wrong with the ad.

    May 20, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. gmantis

    This is a such a non-story, nobody had a problem with Gov. Kean and his trademark "New Jersey and you... Perfect Together" ads. I am a Dem and I liked em a lot. Havent seen Christie's new tourism ad, but bet I would like it too. Any ad that brings in the tourist dollars is OK with me, so what if the sitting Gov. (D or R) gets a little face recognition out of it. Buono has minimal chance of winning against Christie, but if this is the best she can do, she has no chance.

    May 20, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. roger

    The Governor of the state is in a video promoting the state and democrats complain about him using federal funds for furthering his political career? Who would you have promoting the state Obama??? I think democrats are in complaining mode because their boss has been having such a hard time lately.

    May 20, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. John

    I am a Democrat and would never vote for Christie, but he personifies the New Jersey storm recovery in all the very best ways. There is no better spokesperson to bring folks back to the Jersey Beach! Get it over it! Then vote for Clinton for President.

    May 20, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Ken in MD

    I'm not a Christie fan, but isn't part of the governor's job to promote tourism in their state?

    May 20, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Theseus

    "Using Federal tax payer money to boost his political image".... no s**t you dunces.... THAT'S HOW POLITICS WORKS. Obama did it, Bush did it, Clinton did it.... and likely every Pres. before them. Politicians are crooks out for their own agenda.... ALWAYS!

    May 20, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. midwestmatt

    And this is a story for what reason? Tell the haters to pound salt.

    And I'm a Democrat who can't vote for Christie and who would likely not vote for him in a national election.

    This is for the state he represents, not his own ambitions.

    May 20, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Creamy Crispy

    Oh no it has nothing to do with politics.
    Right, as if being seen as much as possible on TV/internet/etc isn't a good thing for a politician.
    Somebody get this guy a cheesburger so he will shut his lying face.

    May 20, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Norm

    Seriously?
    Like anyone would ever vote for this guy to be president?
    LOL...

    May 20, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. kristinacious

    This man took us from being the brunt of late night jokes, being embarassed about the state of NJ with its sickening gang of greedy, self-indulgent politicians, to being proud to be from a state led by an honest funny,family man who speaks the truth with integrity, no matter what. He's just good enough to be a GREAT President. and he won't be mean like Hilary during a campaign.

    May 20, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. lex

    Politics is getting meaner and maner and nastier and nastier.

    A state governor is the state's CEO. In today world, PR, advertising etc. is part of a CEO's role. And check out whose name is on the sign entering most states that say welcome to [name of state} _______) Governor.

    This is just stupid nonsense.

    May 20, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. ncmyk

    oh yes, like running this ad in Canada is going to help Christie win an election? some people will politicize anything – this is good for nj

    May 20, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. Zach

    As someone who thinks the vast majority of the Republican party no longer represents anything I believe in to the point where I feel the need to vote for Democrats as the "least vile" of the two parties..... Christie has issues you can make fun of, but dedication towards helping his state isn't one of them. He's a Republican I'd be happy to argue with and I think would make a honest governor or president.

    I might not always agree with him, but I believe his goal was helping his state, not himself. Good for him.

    May 20, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  15. Mary Jane Rutkowski

    Governor Christie is doing what he is supposed to do - lead. He is a visible symbol of the reconstruction. No problem with the commercial and I am a lifelong liberal democrat.

    May 20, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. Independent Voter

    I voted for Obama, and also Reagan and Perot. Christie is the Governor and is the face of the state- of course he is appropriate in a tourism ad! Extremism is killing us. Christie is one of the smartest politicians we have and I would definitely consider him for President. He is an independent thinker, and speaks his mind. That's what I like about him, and that's also why he gets into trouble with his own party. Where is the really grand old party any more? The party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and here in Oregon, our best ever leader, Tom McCall? Instead we get nutjobs who cannot think beyond the NRA's talking points. Leave Christie alone!

    May 20, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Najia Mir

    I am a democrat but I'll vote for Christie because he brought back NJ from brink of disaster. He is doing what he suppose to do promote his state by leading.

    May 20, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. Captain Jack

    The Governor knows how to work the media for his benefit using Sandy. It covers up his failures with local property tax. Jobs and corporate welfare. He is really milking this disaster for everything he can get out of it

    May 20, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. Jim

    This is stupid–HE'S THE GOVERNOR and he's out promoting his state in a positive way, instilling confidence in his residents and visitors... in the military we call that LEADERSHIP. This isn't political, it's his job! (and I'm a democrat–so democrats, get over this–there are republicans who are good people, and we can disagree on issues, but this is stupid)

    May 20, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  20. scott

    This liberal democrat says go Chris Christie...hes the governor...its his job to promote his state.

    Made up controversies in DC are another matter....

    May 20, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  21. scott

    If you think this is a problem...you are the problem!!!!!!

    May 20, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. ronjayaz

    How's his weight going? My favorite Republican even tho I'm a Democrat!

    May 20, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. Gary

    The interesting thing about this is that while people are up in arms over Governor Christie's involvement in the tourism ad, no one blinked an eye when the Governator, Arnold Schwartzenegger, and his wife were involved in tourism ads for the state of California.

    Who cares who is promoting the state's tourism? The fact that they went through a devastating event this past year which severely damaged their main source of income from May to September should be the focus of the ad, not who appears in it.

    May 20, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. Brad

    I agree that it's a conflict of interest. I only want canditates whom I have never heard of.

    May 20, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. billcody

    I am not a fan of Christie's but I don't see any problem with this ad. When there is a nominated opposition candidate for governor then this ad should be removed but it is not election season (ok, so it is always election season, but....)

    May 20, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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