In final, fiery debate, Christie hits hard
October 16th, 2013
12:01 AM ET
1 year ago

In final, fiery debate, Christie hits hard

(CNN) - In their final face-to-face meeting, New Jersey's candidates for governor held nothing back. The nationally known incumbent, Republican Chris Christie, and Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono, traded personal and political barbs in a heated exchange three weeks before election day.

The 90-minute debate was interrupted twice by audience members and featured dueling narratives. Christie described himself as a bipartisan governor with overwhelming public support who has brought New Jersey out of the depths of the recession. Buono, on the other hand, pitched herself as a fierce underdog who has fought for the working class all her career.


Christie has an overwhelming majority in the polls. The latest numbers from Quinnipiac University put the Republican governor almost 30% ahead of Buono despite the state's history of leaning blue.

"Governor Christie represents the worst combination of bully and boss-ism," Buono said, speaking again and again about what she called the "Boardwalk Empire of New Jersey bosses and backroom politics" that she charged Christie stood at the center of.

Throughout the night, Christie was quick to fire back.

"You want to start throwing stones tonight, you better get out of your glass house," he said.

Buono didn't hit hard all night, however, knowing how popular the governor is on many issues.

"I think the governor did a great job during Sandy and the aftermath," she said of his leadership during the hurricane last fall. She was quick to add, "I just wish that we could see that governor again."

For his part, Christie, who is widely considered a contender for the 2016 presidential election, tried to combat a perception that he had already checked out of state politics on his national climb. He was asked a handful of times about his political ambition, and his opponent painted some of his policy-making as him appeasing the right wing of the national Republican Party.

Buono accused him of "wilting" to the NRA and New Hampshire Republicans when he vetoed a ban on a powerful model of semi-automatic assault rifle. She argued he was aligning himself with Sarah Palin and Tea Party Republicans by opposing same-sex marriage over a majority of New Jersey voters' support for it. And she tied him to the debt fights in Washington through his campaigning and fundraising for GOP leaders like Sen. Marco Rubio and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Again and again, Christie defended his record.

"I am who I am," he said, and the people of New Jersey "know that when I tell them something, I'm telling them the truth as I see it and that I'm not going to mince words about it. I think that's the way most people in New Jersey are... and they're not going to see anything different from Chris Christie in a second term if I'm lucky enough to have one."

And on the issue of presidential politics, he remained mum.

"I have no idea what the next four years are going to bring me. Absolutely no idea," he said. "And I don’t think that the people of New Jersey out there watching right now expect me to be able to predict what will happen over the next four years."


Filed under: Barbara Buono • Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. patriot123579

    Christie for President 2016!!!!

    October 16, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  2. Jamal Hyde

    I am truly embarassed to be a Republican in America. This so called attempt to make POTUS look bad has failed. the ACA will help all Americans in many ways now and in the future. Listen up Repubs... the election is coming up and I for one will not forget what this party has done or attempted to due to this Great Country. We the people will have the last say how the goverment governs from here on. to brace yourself for a new group of reps.

    October 16, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  3. SgtRock101

    Well I like Christie for his understanding of the different estates in this country, the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, the press and the NRA. His stance on the 2nd Amendment is appropriate; that is "The right to commit mass murder shall not be infringed in any way." You go Gov'ner!!!

    October 16, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  4. DKaru

    I say take the gloves off and stand for something. Be you Democrat, Republican, Independent, lean left, lean right just figure out who you are and what you stand for. Then defend that ferociously. If you think your wrong then be strong enough to admit it and find the path you think is best. In my opinion the freedom to speak our mind is one of the things that make the US of A the best damn country in the world and I'm not ashamed to say it.

    October 16, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  5. Petunia

    He would certainly be better than the nincompoop at the helm right now.

    October 16, 2013 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  6. cbp

    It is unfortunate that Governor Christie feels he needs to "hit back" at his opponent at a time when he holds an impressive majority. It is also unfortunate that his popularity and hold over the voters does not extend nationally. His colleagues in the Republican Party ought to listen to him but they do not. His ideas are working in a blue state and he has unprecedented support form both sides of aisle. The House leadership should take notice and take their cue form him/

    October 16, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  7. David Bluestein

    "...speaking again and again about what she called the "Boardwalk Empire of New Jersey bosses and backroom politics" that she charged Christie stood at the center of." CNN calls this WRITING?

    October 16, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  8. Teabags falling off cliffs

    Christie is one of the few credible republicans remaining.

    the rest are rino, whose mascot is the wooly mammoth.

    When the tea ships show, time to take your bags and go.
    off to your homeland republistan.

    October 16, 2013 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  9. jeremy

    Yeah, he does seem to be the most outspoken person in politics. Seems like he tells people the truth. However, I really don't think he'll ever become president. Wouldn't want him by the big red button! I kind of hope Hillary runs for office. We Dems will definitely win the WH again, then! Bill back in there seems soothing as well. I like the Clintons, even though they lean a little onto the right.

    October 16, 2013 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  10. Michael Benjamin

    "I have no idea what the next four years are going to bring me. Absolutely no idea," he said. "And I don’t think that the people of New Jersey out there watching right now expect me to be able to predict what will happen over the next four years."

    What a load of bull.

    October 16, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  11. mary

    Get rid of him.. He's a Republican.

    October 16, 2013 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  12. israel

    i hope christie wins, republicans need a man like him more than they even realize. The longer he remains relevant the more we know there are some within the republican party who are rational and level headed.

    October 16, 2013 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    In one years time he is going to campaigning to be President of the US whether he says it or not.
    qed I WANT A GOVERNOR WHO WILL STILL BE FULLTINE ON THAT JOB
    BYE BY CHRISTIE.
    REGARDS,
    HODGSON.

    October 16, 2013 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  14. Whome

    If this clown is going to act like a democrat then the people of New Jersey might as well vote for the democratic candidate.

    October 16, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  15. Charles

    Chris Christie for President. The only candidate who is about doing the right thing instead of marching in step with the party line.

    October 16, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  16. Northern NJ

    Having grown up in northern NJ I see Gov. Christie as a classic example of people from that part of the state. He is out spoken, insensitive at times, and forges ahead with his plans ot always cognizant of who he is stepping on. He means well and knows how to play political games to empower himself. I read artciles on President Truman and I think Christie would be a similiar type president.

    October 16, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  17. Scott

    GOt to admire a man like Christie, he speaks his mind, and tells it like it is. He cares and takes care of the people. Unlike Buono who does whatever the DNC says to do. Last thing we need is another radical liberal Democrat screwing things up. We have enough of them now in the Goverment screwing things up.

    October 16, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  18. ok by me

    Christie is the only well-known republican politician I respect. If he were just a bit less conservative on social issues (gun control, gay marriage), he'd be ideal, IMHO.

    October 16, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  19. Richard

    Go for it Chris !!!

    October 16, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  20. roro

    Why bother voting for him when he will soon be running around the country running for president, thus ignoring NJ? Why not just vote for someone who will be here fighting for NJ for the full 4 years? Makes sense to me.

    October 16, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  21. BobAD

    If Christie was to lose it would be to the credit of the Far Right Wing that wants him out of the spotlight.

    October 16, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  22. Fair is Fair

    roro

    Why bother voting for him when he will soon be running around the country running for president, thus ignoring NJ? Why not just vote for someone who will be here fighting for NJ for the full 4 years? Makes sense to me.
    ---------
    In fairness, the same can be said for a freshman Senator 2 years into his first term that ran for President, no?

    October 16, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  23. suziecoyote

    As a progressive, I don't care for Christie at all, but have you listened to any of the debates? He just wipes the floor with Buono. If I lived in New Jersey, I would have to vote for him.

    October 16, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  24. Wendy

    As an Independent, Christie is the only politician I respect. I truly hope the Republicans have learnt their lesson with the current debacle, abandon the Tea Party radicals, and nominate him for President in 2016. Can't see it happening though, the far right is way too powerful. Shame they are so out of touch with the American people.

    October 16, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  25. agnar150

    I hope he runs for president because he is going to loose. That way he can be replaced with a real candidate who will work for the people.

    October 16, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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