Christie on dealing with Obamacare concerns: ‘Elect a new President’
March 4th, 2014
02:45 PM ET
9 months ago

Christie on dealing with Obamacare concerns: ‘Elect a new President’

Updated 2:45 p.m. ET, 3/4/2014

(CNN) – Gov. Chris Christie didn’t get any questions about the traffic scandal that’s plaguing his administration at his latest town hall, but he got the crowd on its feet when he addressed a concern about the federal health care law.

A woman named Sharon asked the Republican governor Tuesday what seniors can expect from the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and how to combat negative experiences she has heard about.

“What do we do?” she asked.

"Elect a new President. That's what you do," Christie replied.

His answer quickly prompted the audience of more than 500 to erupt in cheers and applause. The ovation lasted nearly half a minute.

The potential 2016 contender was speaking to a friendly crowd in Toms River, a part of the state that was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

While most of the 10 questions he received had to do with the devastating 2012 storm, the governor seemed to be angling for questions about any topic.

“You’re free to ask any question you want to ask about anything,” he said. “You can ask me about whatever you want to ask me about. It’s not just about Sandy related stuff.”

It was Christie’s 112th town hall as governor and third since a state legislative committee and the U.S. Attorney’s office began investigating his administration over suggestions his appointees orchestrated traffic backups in Fort Lee last year to punish that town’s mayor politically for not endorsing him for reelection.

Christie has denied any involvement in the situation, and he severed ties with a handful of appointees caught up in the mess.

The governor has said a lack of questions about the scandal at town hall forums illustrates that Garden State residents aren’t interested in the controversy.

Christie was easily reelected in November, and his last three town halls have been in politically friendly territory.

The questions he fielded Tuesday were mostly about Sandy aid, in which he again blamed federal red tape for a majority of delays in assistance, more than 16 months after the storm.

He got two questions on pension and education, but the final question on Obamacare gave him a chance to distance himself from the same President he’s been accused of being too cozy with in the past.

“We worked together, but he's just dead wrong on this,” Christie said. “The President made a mistake. As a guy who's in these jobs, mistakes get made... But you can't be stubborn about it.”

The governor argued that they need to “start over” on health care, but did not favor repealing the law.

“To repeal Obamacare, Obama has to sign the repeal of the law named after him. Unlikely, right? Unlikely,” he added.

Christie addressed the fact that New Jersey accepted Medicaid expansion, an optional portion of the law that many Republican governors rejected.

“We expanded Medicaid, because we believe that folks are better off going to see physicians and having care than going to emergency rooms all the time. ... But the rest of this program does not make any sense,” he said.

His answer comes as the Republican Governors Association, which he chairs, is taking heat for targeting a Democrat in the South Carolina gubernatorial race for supporting Medicaid expansion. Democrats have seized on the attack to try to paint Christie as hypocritical.

Christie's town halls are a tried-and-tested strategy for the embattled governor as he attempts to draw attention away from the scandal that has raised questions about his forceful governing style and clouded a potential presidential candidacy in 2016.

The last two town halls were also held in areas where the governor enjoys strong support—Morris County and Monmouth County. Tuesday’s event followed that practice. Toms River sits in the heart of Ocean County, where Christie received around 76% of the vote in 2013.

Outside the building, however, about a dozen protesters gathered Tuesday. Some held signs that said ‘Sandy – still homeless.’ A few held signs calling on Christie to resign.

Photo by Steve Kastenbaum/CNN

Photo by Steve Kastenbaum/CNN

On a radio show last week, Christie noted that the people he has met at the town halls aren’t interested in the traffic controversy.

"I will be damned if I let any of this stuff get in the way of my real job," he said during his appearance on the "Ask the Governor" program hosted by New Jersey 101.5 Radio.

A member of Christie's staff told CNN: "We're just getting back into the groove of doing these town halls. As we do more of them we will get to other parts of the state."

The staffer went on to say that right now the focus is on Sandy recovery and that’s why they go to counties along the Jersey shore, because they sustained the most damage. But Christie does plan to get out to other parts of the state, eventually.

Christie specifically mentioned Bergen County as he listed the counties they will eventually get to. This is significant because that’s where Fort Lee sits.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey • Superstorm Sandy
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The debt ceiling was just the start. Can't wait to see the GOBP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats 2012 Mitt the twit style.

    March 4, 2014 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  2. Marie MD

    And this ladies and gentlemen is why this man will NEVER be president or get away with bridgegate . . . . a bully is a bully is a bully. Just think Putin and what he's doing because he IS another political bully.
    "I will be damned if I let any of this stuff get in the way of my real job," he said during his appearance on the "Ask the Governor" program hosted by New Jersey 101.5 Radio.
    We'll be damned if we elect somebody who shoots first then asks questions later. See shrub #43

    March 4, 2014 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  3. Name

    Another Jersey guy in trouble
    Todd Kneisel

    March 4, 2014 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    Who will attend these? Are people so stupid, forgetful? Sheer bully.

    March 4, 2014 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  5. rla

    why does cnn make political investagations sound like convictions

    March 4, 2014 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    "And while questions from audience members are unfiltered, not a single person at the previous two events asked about the scandal that has come to be known as “Bridgegate.”
    ----------------------------------------–
    Makes me wonder how are the people at these town hall meetings selected.

    March 4, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  7. salty dog

    You'll have to pry him out, that's what he's saying, no matter how evident his guilt becomes.

    March 4, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    rla

    why does cnn make political investagations sound like convictions
    -----------------------
    The Governor and his campaign manager, Stepien, have both claimed to have been completely unaware of the lane closures by the Port Authority. Given the news coverage of the closures by the local TV stations, who were reporting on the schedules for the lane closures, it is totally implausible that neither man was aware of the scheduled closings. In the event that both men were, indeed, unaware of any of it as they have claimed, then both men are prohibitively incompetent, unfit for being governor, much less POTUS.

    March 4, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    The choreography being presented would be impressive if the theme for Christie's adminstration was not " duck and cover".

    March 4, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  10. Wake up People!

    Sure he is. It's a much more controlled environment.

    March 4, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. S.B. Stein

    If I could take time off of work, I'd ask him two questions. The first would be where is his administrations analysis of those programs that help the poor and how much they put into the economy with those programs. The other question is about what pension reform needs to be done short of stripping the pension system away from the workers who have been working hard for the state. My concern is that there would a poorer candidates apply to work for the state making it harder for the state to do things well.

    March 4, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  12. salty dog

    The most closely scripted event since his last town hall meeting, pathetic .

    March 4, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I will be damned if I let any of this stuff get in the way of my real job," he said during his appearance on the "Ask the Governor" program hosted by New Jersey 101.5 Radio."

    Says the guy who spent his 2014 campaign running for his 2016 campaign. Not to mention his chairmanship of the RGA, which he is also using for his 2016 campaign.

    Geesh, Christie. Sometimes it is best NOT to make certain comments.

    March 4, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |