Thomas Roberts   |  January 10, 2014

Christie insists he's not a bully

"Bridgegate" has brought into focus the reputation New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has developed of being a bully. Policy Mic's Elizabeth Plank, The Grio's Zerlina Maxwell, and The Huffington Post's Sabrina Siddiqui discuss.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> politics ain't bean bag , okay, and everybody in the country who engages in politics knows that. on the other hand, that's very, very different than saying that, you know, someone's a bully. i have very heated discussions and arguments with people in my own party, and on the other side of the aisle. i feel passionately about issues, and i don't hide my emotions from people. i am not a focus-group tested, blow-dried candidate or governor. i am who i am; but i am not a bully.

>> i am not a bully, we all heard it there. that was also a really large part of the message from chris christie , apologizing during that nearly two-hour-long press conference, and that is the topic for our agenda panel today. elizabeth plank, executive social director for policy, serena maxwell, and a reporter "the huffington post ." great to have all of you here under one roof as we talk about this, but as we go off that narrative of i am not a bully, we have a lot of different examples of where chris christie has kind of been a little more verbiose and we know mother jones put together a brief clip of some of the more infamous moments. take a look.

>> do you want to hear the answer, or don't you? because i'm not going to -- i've heard you. okay. next question. go ahead, yes, sir. and let me tell you something, after you graduate from law school , you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to get thrown in jail, idiot.

>> you don't send your children to public schools , you send them to private schools , so i was wondering why you think it's fair to be cutting school funding to public schools .

>> what's her name?

>> guys, real quick, the governor's talking. what is it? gail, talk to gail.

>> first off, it's none of your business. don't bother me about where i send mine.

>> depends who you ask whether those are highlights or lowlights, but it resinates and he was reelected, but is it enough to see the governor say i'm not a bully, serve up and eat a lot of humble pie yesterday. does it compare to the chris christie that we know? are people willing to buy it?

>> well, i think it may have worked to get him elected in new jersey, but it will not resinate with the american people across the nation. he's already known to be aggressive, as we seen with these clips, it's clear he's an aggressive style of leadership, and what we've seen now with this press conference where he's still talking about himself, saying i want to answer these questions, i'm not going to answer this question, it sounded more like a filibuster than a press conference. it was about him and still appearing to be quite a bully, and if you have to say you're not a bully, you are addressing the real perception that people think you're a bully.

>> one thing, though, he did stand up there and take question after question, and this was after not appearing in front of cameras the day before when the revelations really broke. it's chris christie 's style to come out and really kind of take issues by the throat and deal with them, so this was a different style for the governor. you're very familiar with jersey politics. we've had several state lawmakers on various shows over the hours here. here's just a little bit of what they had to say about christie 's press conference.

>> the fact that the governor never noticed anything about this until yesterday, either there's something wrong with the governor, or he doesn't read newspapers, he doesn't watch tv.

>> the bottom line here, it's not poor governor christie , it's poor residents of ft. lee and the surrounding residents. the apologies, i know that the governor went up to apologize, but it's four months too late.

>> chris christie is not a gullible and naive man. it strains credibility for this governor and if you've done any business in trenton, this is a governor who micromanages every detail of his administration.

>> then we had this, the freshest sound a while ago with former new jersey governor, she was running for governor, senator barbara buono , and here's what she had to say.

>> look, it's one of two things, either the governor's lying or he's incompetent, but my prediction is this, he will be leaving the governor's office before his term is up and it won't be to run for president.

>> can he survive? this is a wound politically, but does he survive jersey and beyond?

>> i think that is certainly an open question right now. i think a week ago we'd say, or the beginning of the week we'd say perhaps he could survive. now, particularly because of the press conference, it was all about himself, he says i'm not a bully, but we learned yesterday he's also a baby. i'm very sad about this, but he really wasn't sad about the impact on the people of ft. lee. i think that part of the problem for him is that this shows, i mean, one of the questions he did not answer yesterday was that, you know, are there other instances of retaliation, he deflected that question and rachel maddow 's excellent reporting last night shows there are probably other things in these e-mails that are soon to be released about other acts of retaliation.

>> let's dive into that right now, because rachel suggested the bridge closure wasn't really about major sokolich but was rather political payback for the fact governor christie and the new jersey state democrats had issue and brought up the feud christie had over the state supreme court nominees. here's just a portion of what she had to say last night. take a listen.

>> who represents district 37, they have two members of the state assembly , and the leader of the senate democrats . leader of the senate democrats represents ft. lee. roughly 12 hours after governor christie blows up at the senate democrats and torpedos a career of a supreme court justice who he likes, because he said the senate democrats are animals and he's not going to let that justice loose to those animals, the leader of those animals in the senate sees her district, her district, get the order of destruction from governor christie 's deputy chief of staff.

>> i want to reenforce this is just a theory, but investigative reporters are all going to be looking at date lines and timelines and where different people were to figure out the true machinations behind all of this. that is an interesting theory, but is that probably more likely there's something less obvious than what people think, that this was just about trying to get the mayor of ft. lee to provide an endorsement?

>> it's a possibility, like you said, it's still just a theory, and a lot of that, of course, will be unravelled as the investigation continues, and that's why it's critical chris christie 's story is accurate, that his accounting for his lack of any role in this will be critical in terms of just how politically damaging this might be. i think so far this is troubling for him. it's one of the first major roadblocks he's hit since he's sort of rose to the national stage with his re-election by a landslide and sort of his already been accepted as ininevitable republican nominee for president. this is one of the first controversies he's had to deal with in the last months, so a lot of his story and whether, for example, there might be more to this than he said, that's what has the potential to make this a lasting controversy rather than one roadblock he could put behind him. so far, nothing has linked him directly to this, and again, that's where other theories will be key in toeerms of whether he had more of a role than he said he did.

>> chris christie wants to look as he is the bridge candidate and it's literally a bridge that may take him down. thanks so much, elizabeth plank, nice to see you in person, great to vu you on. we really appreciate all your insights.

>>> coming up next on the next hour with alex wagner, much more on chris christie and whether the political retaliation did contribute to this bridge debacle. bob engle will join during the hour to weigh