June 4th, 2013
04:24 PM ET
8 years ago

Christie accused of 'debilitating stupidity' after election decision

(CNN) - Gov. Chris Christie's decision to set a special election this year to fill New Jersey's vacant Senate seat wasn't met with open arms Tuesday by a fellow Republican, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead," Armey accused the governor of trying to curry favor with Democrats by not appointing a Republican to the seat until 2014. He'll name an interim senator by next week to serve until the special election.

"All Christie has to do is appoint a Republican. That's the correct move for him to make," Armey said. "Now, I put it down as debilitating stupidity. The first rule of politics is 'Don't lose the friends you already have for the friends you're never going to get.' And if he thinks the Democrats are going to love him for being the guy who plays fair rather than takes the political opportunity he's crazy."

A Democratic governor would have "seized the opportunity" and appointed a senator from his own party, Armey argued Tuesday.

"People that run for office in politics make political decisions rather than policy decisions often commit debilitating stupidity," Armey said. "Most often it's done by the left, but frequently done by Republicans as well."

Until last year, Armey served as the chairman of the conservative, tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks.

Filed under: Chris Christie • Dick Armey
soundoff (1,230 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Dick Armey is just another hack politician who places party over country. The interests of the people of NJ are best served by having an elected representative replace the late Sen. Lautenberg within six months as opposed to 18 months. The only reason it's considered stupidity is because it will hurt the GOP's chances at winning an election they probably weren't going to win anyway. Remember, the late Senator was a liberal democrat. Do you really think a conservative Republican is going to win that seat?

    On the flip side, I give Christie huge kudos. He knew he was going to get roasted by his party, and knew it was in his own best interests as well as his party's to delay until 2014, but once he again he put his obligations to the people of his state ahead of those of his party, as every politician should, but few ever do.

    June 4, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    WWOD, Instead of asking "what Obama would do?", why not ask the People of the State of New Jersey "what they would do"? Which, in essence, is what holding an election is all about! Christie is letting the PEOPLE decide you their Senator will be, rather than playing partisan politics. Isn't this the whole concept of "By the People, For the People"? Perhaps, Governor Christie is aware and humbled enough to know that he works for the People of the state of New Jersey and NOT the Republican Party!!! As a former Republican (though still Conservative), he would earn my trust if I was convinced his qualifications were there for POTUS. He seems to be what our country needs more of; Politicians that recognize their allegiance to the Constitution and the People, as opposed to our current crop of Democrats and Republicans that seem to pledge allegiance to their Poilitical Party instead of the Constitution and the People. We need more Politicians like Christie on both sides of the aisle.

    June 4, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. Pablo

    Maybe he wants to do the fair and the right thing for the people and not blindly follow party lines and expectations. I respect that.

    June 4, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  4. fred

    Dick Armey is aptly named.

    June 4, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  5. J G

    As a fellow Republican, good move by Christie. Armey comes off as a buffoon. This isn't the civil war, folks. The people of that state voted a democratic senator – their will should be respected. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, it's time we stopped the type of "us vs. them" positioning that Armey's comments reflect and remember that we're all Americans, even if we disagree on various issues.

    June 4, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  6. Americana

    This is what America needs!

    June 4, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  7. shadysider

    Woah, there, Christie. The choice of the people over partisanship? You've quickly made my presiential choice in 2016 a two man race between yourself and Jon Huntsman, if he runs again. I'll give Hillary a chance, but lean toward these two independently minded individuals.

    June 4, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. skegeeace

    What's that?! The Gov. isn't a power-hungry monster and is actually trying to reach out to the other side and work together?!
    I think that Armey guy could take heed from him.

    June 4, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  9. Louie

    Sounds like Christie is behaving more like an Eisenhower Republican....you know...back before the Republican Party allowed the lunatics to take it over.

    June 4, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  10. shadysider

    It's official. Either Christie or Huntsman in 2016, We need independently minded individuals over partisans.

    June 4, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. Big Joe

    So basically Armey is asserting that his party can't win a straight up election in NJ so they should resort to tactics that are inherently anti-democratic because the ends justify the means. Essentially the will of the voter is irrelevant in his world? Sweet! Shouldn't CNN question this stuff a little more?

    June 4, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. KieranBru

    OF COURSE a Democratic governor would have appointed a Dem., Mr. Armey. It was a Democratic Senate seat to begin with, and replacing a D with a D would look like he/she was taking the will of the people into account. A Republican putting a Rep. in a Democratic seat would have looked like just the opposite, and would have assured Mr. Christie of getting few to no Dem. votes in November. Sounds like a pretty smart decision to me, Dick.

    June 4, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. sick of republican phonies

    Dick Armey should stick to his Army of Dicks and keep his mouth shut before he says something intelligent by mistake.

    June 4, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. adhocal

    Someone asked "what would Obama do?"....you know it wouldn't matter, because he would be criticized regardless of what he did, and the repubs would try to filibuster it, and the tpartyers would vote NO on it, and Fox news would lie about it. Finally a Republican does the "decent" thing, whether for a good reason or not, and look how his own "political family" eats him alive.

    June 4, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    "All Christie has to do is appoint a Republican. That's the correct move for him to make," Armey said. "Now, I put it down as debilitating stupidity. The first rule of politics is 'Don't lose the friends you already have for the friends you're never going to get.' And if he thinks the Democrats are going to love him for being the guy who plays fair rather than takes the political opportunity he's crazy." REALLY???? I thought the first rule of politics is "Represent your Consituents and obey the Constitution! Based on Dick Armey's logic, if Congress (or the state Legislature) is full of Criminals, then be a Criminal. He seems to be the one that has "debilitating stupidity." Americans are sick and tired of "The Club" in Washington and in state politics. People are yearning for Poiliticians that can respect the other side of an issue, work with people across the aisle, and always remain cognizant that they are elected and paid by the People of the U.S., not the Political Party with which they are affiliated. I support Christie though I am not from New Jersey.

    June 4, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  16. here and back again

    Sometimes politicians actually walk the high road and remember that they serve their constituents and not their political party. I like this guy...at least he does what is best in his mind for his state.

    June 4, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. charles

    Dick is a Dick! Christie is brilliant and an understanding human being. Politicians have messed up this country by just making stupid political decisions at the detriment of the country and society as a whole. that explains as to why the country is in debt, continuously at war and the only policies that come out of Washington is only to the benefit of the few. His decision was based on New jersey as a state , but not the republican party. The party can change its every thing, but the state will always stay. people change political parties, but the state will stay and so do the country.

    June 4, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Dick Armey's comments epitomize what is wrong with the Republic party's approach to government and governing. Armey, like most of the Republic leadership for the past decade or two, sees every situation solely through a political lens, constantly seeking to fight Democrats and secure his position instead of even taking one moment to consider the American public and taking some action to actually govern democratically. While I am a life-long Democrat, Christie's behavior over the past year has repeatedly demonstrated that he is willing to try to do what is right for the American people, what is right for democracy. I do not agree with many of Christie's policies or positions, but his willigness to actual govern sets him apart by miles from the rest of the leaders in the Republican party and any potential Republic presidential candidate. At the end of the day, Christie probably won't get my vote in 2016, assuming their is a reasonable Democratic candidate, but at least his actions show that he cares about the American people and our democracy. That will go a long way in helping him govern, either as a Governor or a President (should he be elected in 2016). Republics consistently demonstrate that they only care about stonewalling Democrats and thereby demosntrate that they could careless about what approximately 50% of the American public support. Dick Armey's comments about Christie's actions (and conservatives reaction to Christie;s willingness to work with Obama after Hurricane Sandy and during the continue recover) show how callous and out of touch Republican politicians have become. Politicians are elected to govern and help the people, not fight like kids in a schoolyard. The lack of understanding that politicians have a responsibility to help the American people and govern democratically demonstrates Dick Armey's "debilitating stupidity." This is precisely why the Republican base is slowly, but surely shrinking. Christie shoulld be praised for choosing to govern and respect the American people. Instead his own party ridicules him.

    June 4, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Skeptacular

    The problems with Armey's logic are several. He presumes to quote conventional wisdom as to the ONE thing Christie needed to do, should have done – as though the NJ Gov had no choice in the matter. Outside the beltway Christie is substantially more popular than Dick Armey. Armey has always followed the party line conventional wisdom, which certainly kept him in office and ensconced in that bureaucracy, but no one ever imagined he'd go any further that a footnote in history because, for either party, conventional thinking does not a leader make. Christie, on the other hand, appears to be naturally honest. This has benefitted his state greatly, and earned him the respect of a multitude of genuine non-partisans who seldom dispense that honor. If he preaches conservative ideals, they are his own without too much posturing. That said he'll make his unvarnished feelings known, whether it's to anyone else's perception of political expediency or not. Those who say he's sucking up to the Dems show their utter ignorance of the man. Mainly, Christie has enough centrist support to clobber a number of in-box thinkers from either party. Like Colin Powell however, he alone will chose, and not on the basis of political expediency. If this makes him lose, it'll also leave him honorable. If so many in both parties decry dirty politics, why don't they at least offer Gov. Christie their sincere bipartisan respect? PS: those concerned w/my post's length have attention deficit disorder and should look for treatment while the rest of us hash this out.

    June 4, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  20. John Biggs

    Take the move on its own merit and enjoy the sense of fairness exhibited, seemingly regardless of care about political favoritism. I'm so tired of decisions made by influence. I don't care what Obama or Bush would do. I just care about doing the right thing.
    "I don't need to be right, I just want to be for what's right."

    June 4, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  21. Gary

    What part of "country first" does Armey not understand? He really and truly believes everything is about the party of losers he's shackled to.

    June 4, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  22. gopfails

    Actually a Democratic governor of a very red state might well have done the same. As for Armey this is the guy that brought hired goons with guns to intimidate members of his own tea party creation and then was run off by them for doing so.

    June 4, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. manhandler1

    As a long time liberal Democrat, the only Republican and would even think of giving my vote to is Christie. He displays an integrity and willingness to work across party lines that no other Republican even comes close to. But you go ahead, Armey, and keep driving that wooden stake into the heart of the doomed Teapublican Party.

    June 4, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. Mary

    So the GOP actually ridicules one of their own for "playing fair"...~!
    Wow.. We have a two party system, NOT to take sides and fight . But to balance the other out.. And in that sense work through issues and come to a fair and honorable place.. One that benefits as many citizens as possible..
    It is "supposed" to be about the country and the people..
    Not about "party"..
    The whole thing has gotten out of hand.. Turned into a two party "fiasco" ..One that has managed to forget that they are there to look out for and take care of this country and the people in it..
    Instead they might as well be on a playground fighting over who's turn it is to have the ball..

    June 4, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  25. Susan Rizzo

    I am a democrat who would seriously consider voting for him. I think he is a man of the people and not a man of politics alone.

    June 4, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
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