By Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer, NBC News
Basking in his smashing victory in Tuesday’s election, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday his party ought to follow his blueprint for success by accomplishing tangible things and by wooing minority voters.
“I got 61 percent of the vote… in a blue state that had just re-elected Barack Obama a year ago by 17 points,” Christie said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “That was nearly a 40-point turnaround between voting for a Democrat at the top of the ticket and voting for a Republican. And, you know, getting 51 percent of the Hispanic vote, I’m very proud of that, because I’ve worked hard with the Hispanic community to let them see how our policies can help their families.”
The lesson for the Republican Party of his big victory on Tuesday, he said, is “if you want to want to attract a majority of the Hispanic vote, if you want to nearly triple your African-American vote as a Republican, what you need to do is show up, you need to show up in those places” where those voters live.
And, the New Jersey governor said, “you listen, and you start to make the argument about your policies….. That’s the kind of engagement that we need as Republicans all across the country. To listen and to show up in places where we haven’t gotten a great amount of vote before.”
It’s likely that Christie will be a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in a field of rivals in which he’d be the only one from the Northeast. The Republican Party has not nominated a sitting governor from a Northeastern state as its presidential candidate since New York Gov. Thomas Dewey in 1948.
Asked on ABC’s This Week program whether he would serve all four years of his second term as governor, Christie replied, “I don't know. I'm going to continue to do my job and finish the job. But everybody who is trying to figure out what life is going to bring you a few years from now, I didn't expect to be sitting here four years ago…. So, nobody can make those predictions.”
Christie sharply criticized President Barack Obama for promises he had made that under the Affordable Care Act people would not lose their preferred insurance plan.
“Obamacare was a mistake, I’ve said that right from the beginning, I think it’s a failed policy,” Christie said. “That’s why we did not institute state-based exchanges (in New Jersey) and you can see exactly why when you see the disaster that’s happening right now.”
Christie contrasted what he portrayed as his own candor with Obama’s alleged dishonesty.
Obama, he said, “didn’t tell folks the truth about what was going to happen with their own private insurance policies. What I urged him to do for the last two weeks when I’ve been on the campaign trail is: tell people the truth. That’s the thing they expect and I think that’s why we’ve gotten the support we’ve gotten in New Jersey. Because whether it’s good news or bad news, I tell folks in New Jersey the hard truths they need to hear. And even when they disagree with me… they’ve come around to support me because they say at least this guy is looking us in the eye and telling us the truth.’”
He added, “I think the president has failed that test unfortunately on Obamacare….”
And Christie contrasted himself as can-do chief executive with some legislators in Washington who seem mired in partisan scrimmaging and seem short of real accomplishments. The lesson of his experience during his first term as governor, he said, was that “people want the folks they elect to get the job done; to do their job, get it done for the people who elect you.”
He claimed credit for 143,000 new private sector jobs, “cutting business taxes, controlling property taxes, reforming (public school) teacher tenure for the first time in a hundred years, and reforming a pension and benefit system to save $120 million over the next 30 years for the taxpayers. It’s that kind of record that people were supporting on Tuesday night.”
Asked if he was a moderate or a conservative, Christie replied, “I don’t get into these labels – that’s the Washington, D.C. game and what all those men and women down there play…. The people of America aren’t interested in that game.”
In his interview on ABC’s Week, it was noted that while he was critical of Obamacare, Christie did go along with one part of the law, agreeing to an expansion of the Medicaid program in his state, a decision which might leave him open to criticism from conservatives if he seeks the GOP nomination in 2016.
“I do what's best for the people in the state of New Jersey every day,” Christie replied. “And expanding Medicaid in the state of New Jersey, given how expansive our program already was, it was a relatively small expansion. But it's going to mean a lot. And it's also going to benefit New Jersey's budget.” He added, “here's what makes me different than a lot of these other guys, I'm going to do what I think is right for the people who elected me.”