January 9th, 2014
01:22 PM ET
9 months ago

To be or not to be... a politician

(CNN) - Addressing the firestorm Thursday over the George Washington Bridge controversy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared, "I am not a bully." The statement, which was made in response to a reporter's question, is the latest of a long line of existential declarations made over the years by politicians in a wide variety of circumstances.

Below is a light-hearted look back at some memorable statements politicians have made over the years addressing what it means "to be" (or not to be).

"I am not a bully"
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a news conference Thursday in Trenton

"I am not a crook."
President Richard Nixon on November 17, 1973, addressing reporters in Orlando, Florida on the on-going Watergate scandal

"I am not a witch."
Christine O'Donnell, a U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware in an October 2010 campaign ad addressing comments she had made years earlier about dabbling in witchcraft

"I am not gay"
Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho at a Boise news conference on August 28, 2007, on his recent arrest in a Minneapolis airport bathroom

"I am a gay American"
New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey on August 12, 2004, announcing his resignation at a Trenton news conference following an affair with a male aide

"I am in charge here"
Secretary of State Alexander Haig on March 30, 1981, giving his incorrect interpretation of the presidential line of succession in the chaotic hours following the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

"I am not here as John Kerry."
"I'm John Kerry..."

John Kerry, first as a member of Vietnam Veterans against the War in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971, and 33 years later accepting the Democratic nomination for president on July 29, 2004. In his convention speech, he went on to say, "...and I'm reporting for duty."

"I am profoundly sorry for all I have done wrong in words and deeds."
President Bill Clinton offering a Rose Garden apology on December 11, 1998, moments before the House Judiciary Committee passed its first article of impeachment against him.

"Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner)
President John F. Kennedy declaring his solidarity with the people of West Berlin in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963.

"Who am I? Why am I here?"
Admiral James Stockdale, running-mate of independent presidential candidate Ross Perot, in his opening statement at the vice presidential debate on October 13, 1992.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Warren

    I find it very hard to believe that he had no idea, that his good buddy and his Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Bridget Anne Kelly, took it upon themselves to do this.

    January 9, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Donna

    The usual smear tacitcs of the Democrats and left wing media to paint a true leader as a bully and damage him in the eyes of many, especially women. They simply can't stand the fact that this guy takes no guff and stands up for himself.

    January 9, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. rs

    I read the full text of his presser- pretty compelling stuff. I'll say this- Christie laid it all out there. It may be somewhat implausible (at many levels), but the big guy apologized, answered the questions put to him and didn't opine on the State Special Prosecutor's investigation. Unfortunately for Christie- this may not be the end of it.

    January 9, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    I have to be honest here. I know GOPerville was pining its hat on Chris Christie, but seriously. This is not a man who is going to be able to handle the responsibilities of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Departments of Justice, Defense, Education, HHS, and slew of other agencies which will end up under his watch. He just isn't capable.

    Do I wish otherwise on many of the statements Obama has made over the years? Oh absolutely. (I also include previous Presidents as well.) However, Obama - to my knowledge - has never shown a "mean spirited prank gone wrong" characteristic as has Christie (and Rand Paul and Mitt Romney and a handful of others).

    I sincerely hope GOPerville learns to understand the difference. Show us character, not theatrics. In my opinion, Chris Christie has no real character traits as needed in a world leader.

    He just doesn't have what it takes, and it is way too late in the game for him to "learn" those traits.

    January 9, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Larry in Houston

    """"I am not a crook."
    President Richard Nixon on November 17, 1973"""
    ___________________________________

    """"I am not a bully"""

    Hey CNN, You Just as well put a Date On This – –
    like the rest of the "Quotes" of History....1/9/2014

    January 9, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. sammy sosa

    Alexander Haig was the Secretary of State when he made that statement, not Chief of Staff.

    January 9, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "I am not a crook." = "I am not a bully."

    January 9, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Donna

    Lynda/Minnesota
    This is not a man who is going to be able to handle the responsibilities of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Departments of Justice, Defense, Education, HHS, and slew of other agencies which will end up under his watch. He just isn't capable.
    He just doesn't have what it takes, and it is way too late in the game for him to "learn" those traits.
    ---

    You're talking about Obama right? I totally agree with you especially after seeing him in action for 5 years and the lack of results.

    January 9, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Just another nontrovesy.... Absolutelly no proof of Christie's involvement. Move along.

    January 9, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Gunderson

    Um, Yes,
    It is a whole lot more fun to gossip than talk about the cold hard facts. Obama is off the front page for a day or two. But never fear, more balder dash is coming. The Debt Ceiling is the next big news story. If we can get past unemployment benefits.

    January 9, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    "You're talking about Obama right? I totally agree with you especially after seeing him in action for 5 years and the lack of results."

    Still trying to drag me into your fold, Donna? Not going to happen.

    January 9, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    "I am not a bully"
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a news conference Thursday in Trenton
    ---------------------------
    Instant classic. Automatic nomination for "Lie of the Year" fro 2014.

    January 9, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    I am a BIG BEHIND! LOL

    Even though I'm going to win anyways, I'm still going to HOLD UP traffic to the little guys....what the heck? They are all voters and children to my political opponent!!!

    How petty and triffling of the BIG FAT BULLY in the NJ!!!!

    January 9, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Get used to IT tea potty! 3 more yrs to spew ur hate @Obama

    If you believe this guy Christie that he's not a bully, then I got a hold up bridge in NJ to sell you!!!

    January 9, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Gladiatior

    Rudy NYC

    "I am not a bully"
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a news conference Thursday in Trenton
    ---------
    Instant classic. Automatic nomination for "Lie of the Year" fro 2014.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period."

    Already a classic, Lie of the decade.

    January 9, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |