Christie challenger takes a dig at Bill Clinton
June 24th, 2013
11:39 AM ET
2 years ago

Christie challenger takes a dig at Bill Clinton

(CNN) - Barbara Buono might be the loneliest Democrat of 2013.

The New Jersey state senator is taking on Chris Christie in the New Jersey's governor's race. It's a long shot effort: Christie, one of the most famous politicians in the country, is leading Buono by 30 points in one recent poll, and he's hoping to use a landslide in November as a possible springboard for a 2016 presidential bid.

National Democrats aren't helping. President Obama toured the New Jersey coastline with Christie after Hurricane Sandy last year and again in May, a heavy dose of bipartisan publicity for the Republican governor. The Democratic Governors Association has not sent Buono a penny. And two weeks ago, Bill Clinton invited the governor to a Chicago symposium and lavished praise on Christie's disaster response efforts in full view of the national media.

Buono has been largely diligent about biting her tongue while the biggest names in Democratic politics backslap her GOP rival. With a fundraising deficit and four months until Election Day, she can't afford to rile the very people she might have to call upon if the race tightens.

"We each will have our share of supporters and endorsements and public endorsements," Buono told CNN in an interview last weekend at the progressive Netroots Nation conference in California. "Say what you want about New Jersey. We are tough, we are smart, we are savvy and people are going to go to the polls in November and they are going to vote based on the pocketbook issues."

Still, Christie's appearance with Clinton earlier this month seemed to strike a nerve with the Middlesex Democrat.

"What frustrated me was that President Clinton didn't call him out for being a climate change denier," Buono said. "That's what frustrated me. The irony in all of this is that he is basking in the afterglow of Sandy, and yet we know that climate change, we know that our sea levels are higher, we know our atmosphere is warmer. We know that climate change is upon us, and that's why we're are having more extreme and more frequent weather patterns coming across New Jersey and across our nation."

Christie's position on climate change came under scrutiny last month when he told a reporter that "I don't think there's been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change."

Asked if the governor believes in climate change, Christie spokesman Colin Reed pointed to a May 2011 appearance in Trenton in which the governor cited "undeniable data" about rising carbon dioxide levels and said flatly, "climate change is real and it's impacting our state."

Buono avoided another question about the lack of support from Clinton and Obama, pivoting instead to a series of other charges against Christie.

"Our challenge is to make him own his record," she said, asked how she plans to overcome such a wide polling deficit. "His is a record of being far to the right. Clearly out of step on just about every step social issue are progressive on. He is unabashedly anti-choice. He is anti-marriage equality. He vetoed it. He is anti-pay equity."

Buono also pointed to rising New Jersey property taxes, increasing higher education costs, one of the worst states to do business. She delivered a similar message in her first television ad, which also highlighted her working class roots (she's the daughter of an immigrant butcher who worked her way through college and law school).

Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the Christie campaign, called her claims "more of the same distortions and outright misrepresentations of the governor's positions that have been repeated over and over by Barbara Buono and her allies."

He called the Buono campaign "increasingly desperate."

Buono made the trip to the liberal conference in San Jose, she said, "to rub shoulders with the progressives." She met with bloggers, political activists and spoke to a reception hosted by Emily's List, which supports female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights. It was clear that she is hunting for support wherever she can get it.

Buono's challenge is further complicated by the special Senate election ordered by Christie that will take place on Oct. 16, just a few weeks before the gubernatorial election. Newark's media-savvy mayor Cory Booker is expected to win the Democratic Senate nomination and is already outshining Buono as the Democrats' main attraction in New Jersey this year.

A Monmouth University poll released earlier this month showed Democrats in the state more interested in the Senate election than the governor's race. The same poll showed Christie with an unusually high approval rating among Democrats, with 36 percent of them supporting him over Buono.

Some Democrats filed a lawsuit challenging Christie's decision to hold two costly statewide elections in the span of three weeks, but the move was rejected last week by the state Supreme Court.

Buono said she supports efforts to hold both elections on the same day. She said Christie's election move was a nakedly political move designed to water down Democratic turnout in the November election.

"I think we should have one election, we shouldn't have two elections within 20 days of each other," she said. "One thing that this decision did was expose that this is a governor that is anything but straight talking and apolitical. Every decision he makes is calibrated on how it impacts his political future."


Filed under: Barbara Buono • New Jersey
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Christie, one of the most famous politicians in the country, is leading Buono by 30 points in one recent poll, and he's hoping to use a landslide in November as a possible springboard for a 2016 presidential bid."

    Christie, who CNN has made it their mission to make one of the most famous politicians in the country, is leading Buono by 30 points in one recent poll, and CNN is hoping he will use a landslide in November as a possible springboard for a 2016 presidential bid.

    FIFY

    June 24, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Regardless of who supports her, if I were a Jersey resident, I would vote for her. I applaud Christie for the Sandy aftermath, but what has he actually done in the state except take on the teachers union. I don't see how Christie can say in 2011 that climate change is real and in the aftermath of Sandy say climate change didn't play a part. Talk about speaking with two tongues. What exactly does Christie think the adverse affects of climate change are?

    June 24, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. bkw

    Bottom line, it should always be about "hiring" the best person for the job, regardless of party. That's the democratic way.

    June 24, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Buono should call him out on wasting taxpayer money to hold a special election for the Senate seat. He just doesn't want to be on the same ticket as Corey Booker? He's wasting taxpayer money to protect his large political behind.

    June 24, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Steveo

    The people of NJ will decide but it appears to me, Buono, will just be a speed bump and a small one at that.

    June 24, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. mememine69

    Climate change was CNN's copy and paste wet dream come true.

    After 28 years of science ONLY agreeing it COULD be a crisis and NEVER saying it *WILL be a crisis there comes a time when we ultimately must judge for ourselves if this CO2 death threat for billions of helpless children is real or not as 28 more years of “maybe” a crisis is unsustainable.
    Scientists have children so why don’t they end this debate and agree on giving a real warning of a real crisis?
    *Science has agreed climate change is real and is happening and could (nothing more) be a real crisis as not one single IPCC warning says it WILL be a crisis and not one IPCC warning is not swimming in “maybes”.
    And get up to date:
    *Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
    *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).
    *Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.
    *Obama had not mentioned the crisis in two State of the Unions addresses.

    June 24, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    Is the planet getting warmer? Yup, the facts are undeniable.

    Has the planet warmed in the past? Yup, the facts are undeniable.

    Has the planet cooled in the past? Yup, the facts are undeniable.

    With that being said, I guess I'd be surprised if there wasn't climate change. But it wasn't caused by humans in the past, and it's not being caused by humans now.

    June 24, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Data Driven

    Buono provides useful reminders of Christie's actual policies. Unfortunately, she's learning that the Democratic Party's policies, at least in practice if not in platform, are quite similar. She has a right to be frustrated.

    June 24, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  9. Al-NY,NY

    just like the GOP in the MA Senate race, there is no need to even try...she's gonna lose big so why waste your time? Tubby the governer will win but will go no father in GOP politics unless he completely caves to the "purity" of the GOP platform, which may get him the nomonation but completely alienate any independent who was thinking of giving him their vote

    June 24, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. Wake up People!

    Since when did Christy become one of the most famous politicians in history?? His own party is treating him like a leper.

    Once again, F.L. shows their bias.

    June 24, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The Guns Over People tea potty have no use for Christie so he can forget being their nominee in 2016.

    June 24, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Michael

    "What frustrated me was that President Clinton didn't call him out for being a climate change denier," Buono said. "That's what frustrated me.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sorry to be the one to break the news to you, the climate has COOLED in the last 15 years.

    June 24, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. PJ

    Climate change "wasn't caused by humans in the past, and its not being caused by humans now."
    --
    Pretty strong words from someone who doesn't know, as most of us don't. But why take a chance.
    We see hurricanes, floods, fires, and oil spills devastating our planet. Except for the uncaring
    oil companies, we can't do anything about Mother Nature.
    We can, however, clean up our air, water, quit destroying pristine land to "drill, baby, drill", and protect
    what we have. Of course, that might take a little sacrifice for some, and we can't have that now, can we.

    June 24, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Bob T

    Clinton's endorsement? Kiss of death from the perjury in chief!

    June 24, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    Is the planet getting warmer? Yup, the facts are undeniable.

    Has the planet warmed in the past? Yup, the facts are undeniable.

    Has the planet cooled in the past? Yup, the facts are undeniable.

    With that being said, I guess I'd be surprised if there wasn't climate change. But it wasn't caused by humans in the past, and it's not being caused by humans now.
    ------------------------–
    Has the planet's climate changed this quickly over such a short time span? Nope, never in its' history.

    June 24, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. Woman In California

    I applaud Ms. Buono for fighting and not giving up. Governor Krispy does not own New Jersey nor the residents there and just like all of us, he's just one step away from making a possible mistake which would change the outcome of the race. Keep fighting Ms. Buono and I wish you much success.

    June 24, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |