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.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.