If You Need A Change In New Jersey, Chris Christie Says He Is The Man

22 10 2009

HACKENSACK – Republican Chris Christie offered himself up as the “change” candidate in the governor’s race here Wednesday, hours before President Barack Obama stumped for his rival at an event across town.

“If you think New Jersey needs a change in direction… then I’m the guy to vote for. I’m the guy who’s going to bring change to the state,” Christie said to about 12 supporters at the Arena Diner.

His words followed the release of a Web video featuring audio of an Obama speech in front of images of Christie supporters and the message “Mr. President, New Jerseyans want change.”

The video and Christie’s Hackensack stop seemed to be an effort to co-opt Obama’s visit and famously vague one-word slogan to bolster his own campaign. A Rasmussen poll released Monday gave Christie 41 percent of likely voters to Corzine’s 39 percent – a virtual dead heat.

“The president spoke very articulately last fall about the need for change and no state in America needs change more than New Jersey,” Christie said at the diner. “That is the intent of the video, to show people that if you still want change in New Jersey, there is only one person to vote for who will bring change because Jon Corzine has promised more of the same.” In a nod to the president’s popularity with voters, Christie highlighted their agreements on issues such as charter schools, merit pay and renewable energy. But he said that voters shouldn’t be swayed by the president’s appearance, since “Air Force One’s leaving tonight… [but] if you vote for Jon Corzine you’re going to be stuck with him.” The 3 p.m. event was low-key, with about as many campaign staffers and local Republicans on hand as patrons at the diner. Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman Robert Yudin said that he was confident that county voters would go for Christie, though he conceded that there were no Republican superstars to match Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Caroline Kennedy. The election, Yudin said, would come down to property taxes with corruption a distant second, an analysis that voters at the diner confirmed. Still, many likely voters at the diner said they were not convinced by the pitches from any of the candidates. Cliffside Park resident Charlie Merlin, 74, said taxes were his primary issue because he is now paying $10,000 a year for his three-family home. But he didn’t know if he could trust Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, to deliver on his promises in the corrupting atmosphere of Trenton. “I feel really that whatever they tell me it’s not going to happen,” said Merlin, who added that the president’s visit made no impression on him. Joe Warcholowski, 74, of Hackensack, also complained that one-quarter of his $32,000 pension was going to pay property taxes. He, too, remained skeptical of Christie’s ability to fix the problem. “Maybe, I’ll just close my eyes and push the button,” Warcholowski joked of his selection technique. Christie did find some supporters in his walk through the diner, though, including a man who was speaking to his wife on his mobile phone and asked the candidate to say a few words. “Hey Jean, how are you?” Christie said as he grasped the phone. “Well listen, that’s what we’re trying to do here.” Christie left town at about 3:30 p.m., about an hour before police shut down the roads for Obama’s motorcade.

(News Source: NorthJersey.com/PBCJN)

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