Chris Christie makes point on Obamacare
By ELIZABETH TITUS | 10/8/13 9:37 PM EDT
Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that he doesn’t like Obamacare but that he found a way to deal with it in New Jersey, another signal that he sees the government shutdown as an opportunity to contrast himself with feuding parties in Washington.
“I don’t agree with the law, but we’ve complied with it, and that’s the job you have as governor,” Christie said at a gubernatorial debate at William Paterson University in Wayne. “You don’t always agree with every law you have to enforce, but I’ve enforced this one, and I’m proud of our record on health care.”
Christie sailed through the first debate against his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono. He landed several jabs but stayed cool and largely steered away from going personal, except to say that he commended Buono as a “good and caring mother” and public servant.
Christie was noncommittal when moderator Kristine Johnson asked him whether he was going to run for president. If reelected as governor, Christie would be in the midst of his second term at the onset of the 2016 cycle.
“The fact is after 2017, I would be looking for a new job anyway, so as we go forward I’m going to continue to do my job the best way I possibly can and I am not going to declare tonight, Kristine, for you or for anybody else that I am or I am not running for president,” Christie said.
“I can walk and chew gum at the same time,” he added. “I can do this job and also deal with my future and that’s exactly what I will do.”
Both candidates said they would be open to releasing medical records if voters had questions about their physical suitability for the job. Christie has publicly acknowledged undergoing lap-band surgery in February.
“People see whether you’re fit for the job by whether you can do the job or not,” he said.
Buono assailed Christie on issues ranging from property taxes to jobs to his handling of Superstorm Sandy recovery during the hour-long debate. She repeatedly used variations of the phrase “Romney-style economics” in her argument and said that the economy is “in the tank.”
Responding to an early question on gay marriage, the lawmaker criticized Christie’s position that voters, not elected officials, should decide the state’s law on gay marriage.
“My daughter, who’s openly gay, is not a political agenda,” Buono said.
In a statement provided by the Buono campaign, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida blasted Christie on social and economic issues.
“In Barbara Buono, New Jersey will have a governor who always reflects their mainstream values, not just when the cameras are rolling,” Wasserman Schultz said.
The Republican Governors Association issued a statement saying Christie “clearly defeated Buono.”
The race is an easy one for Republicans compared to the other off-year gubernatorial battle they are waging, in Virginia. Christie has led in polling and fundraising and is expected to claim victory in the Nov. 5 election. The candidates are slated to debate one more time on Oct. 15.