Gov. Christie’s 'tell it like it is' rhetoric: Is it working?

Presidential contender Chris Christie singled out a national teachers union as a target of his wrath. 

Charlie Neibergall/AP
Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with drivers in the garage area before the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, when asked Sunday by CNN's Jake Tapper, "at the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?" quickly answered "the national teacher's union." According to The Washington Post, the GOP presidential candidate was referring to the American Federation of Teachers.

This is not the first time that Governor Christie has made headlines for his rhetoric. Last year, reacting to a protester at a press event on the anniversary of hurricane Sandy, Christie told the man to "sit down and shut up." As one of 17 Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination, Mr. Christie’s style may distinguish him from the rest of the pack.

Christie is currently ranked within the top ten of the Republican candidates running for president, according to aggregated poll data collected by Real Clear Politics. The New Jersey native is currently averaging just over three percent of the total vote from those polled (however, often the margin of error for the polls exceeds three percent). Four years ago, supporters were practically begging the New Jersey governor to run.

Recently, Christie's appeal has been tested after "Bridgegate" and problems with state finances, reported The Christian Science Monitor’s Linda Feldmann. Christie began as the frontrunner for 2016 two years ago. However, polling trends indicate that his overall support has been steadily declining since his initial early lead.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump is currently leading polls amongst GOP candidates. But, according to Christie, “anybody can do well for a month.”

In Sunday's interview, Gov. Christie criticized the teachers union, calling them the "single most destructive force" in education. But the presidential candidate might just be following his campaign slogan in “Telling it like it is” – or at least how he sees it.

When he announced he was running for president, Politico reported on Christie's "unvarnished approach" to politics, proclaiming that he might say things along the campaign trail that “make you cringe every once in a while” according to a Politico article about the announcement.

During his six years in office as governor of New Jersey, Christie became known for his spirited town hall meetings, which cemented his image as a "take-no-prisoners" politician. In the latest incident, protesters interrupted Christie’s town hall meeting on the New Jersey budget July 1. The governor was unconcerned, saying “After being governor for five years, having them yell and scream at me doesn’t bother me one ... bit.”

As a Republican governor in a heavily Democratic state, Christie may face more opposition than support on a daily basis. In the 2012 presidential election, New Jersey overwhelmingly supported the reelection of President Obama, with 58 percent of the vote while only 40 percent supported Republican opponent Mitt Romney.  

On the state level, the New Jersey legislature is overwhelming Democratic: 60 percent of the Senate and 59 percent in the General Assembly.

Yet, while he stands out as a red dot in a field of blue, Christie has never been shy about giving his opinion. From voicing concerns about the role of teachers unions, to criticizing the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding gay marriage, the New Jersey governor has continued to speak out on legislation.

In the past, this candor has worked in Christie’s favor, leading to a sweeping 2013 reelection victory where he walked away with 60 percent of the vote. This was an increase from his first election to governor in 2009 when Christie took nearly 50 percent of the vote. Yet, it remains to be seen whether this outspokenness will work in favor of the presidential nominee for 2016. 

Even Christie isn't certain. At the end of his campaign kickoff announcement, he acknowledged “We have no idea when or how this journey will end.”

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