Chris Christie says Gov. Phil Murphy made an “awful, awful political mistake” when he marched with protesters on June 7 in defiance of his own pandemic-related rules outlawing large public gatherings. And Christie predicted Murphy will pay a steep political price for his actions.
The former governor commented on Murphy and the 2020 election – he said President Trump is now the underdog – during a Zoom meeting Thursday night with the Young Republicans of Morris County.
Christie, who mentioned he was a Young Republican himself when elected Morris freeholder in 1994, acknowledged that recent polls have given Murphy high approval rates.
He said that’s to be expected, because people tend to rally around a political leader during a crisis. Christie said the same thing happened to him in the aftermath of Sandy in 2012. The public’s good feeling toward Christie extended through 2013 when he won a landslide reelection.
Christie said he expected Murphy’s approval ratings to drop in the next round of polling.
As for Murphy’s handling of the pandemic, Christie said he’s been too slow to act. Christie said Murphy should have both “closed” and “opened” the state sooner than he did. He said an earlier closing would have saved lives and that an earlier opening would have gotten the economy going sooner.
He pointed to just-released figures showing a statewide rise in opioid-related deaths.
Some of this is speculation to be sure, but Christie at least partly attributed the increase to the mental stress of the lockdown.
More generally, Christie said Murphy has at times acted during this crisis as a man who is out of touch and “obstinate.”
Moving to the presidential election, Christie, an ardent sports fan, thought back to watching the Super Bowl in early February and how so much has changed politically. He said back then he considered Trump a “prohibitive” favorite for reelection. But not anymore.
“There’s no question President Trump is an underdog,” Christie said, which is something all polls confirm.
Christie said the challenge for Trump is to stress how good the economy was prior to the pandemic and that it can be that way again.
Christie also said it would help if the president did less tweeting.
He also said that Joe Biden has benefitted by not being seen – “by being in the basement of his home.”
Getting back to New Jersey and the GOP’s prospects moving forward, Christie said that as the minority party in the state, Republicans need three things to win elections. Democrats have to mess-up, they have to raise taxes and Republicans need a strong candidate.
As for Christie, he hinted that he’s just taking a hiatus from actively engaging in politics, saying that for him, public life is not over.
After all, at 57, he’s still a young man – politically. But, alas, a bit too old to be a Morris County Young Republican.