Full Transcript of Governor Christie’s July 28, 2010 Appearance on ‘The Today Show’
Matt Lauer: Alright Meredith thank you. With an economy on edge many states are facing many difficult choice. New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie is making waves for his no-nonsense approach to fixing his state's budget problems. Governor Christie it’s good to have you here, good morning.
Governor Christie: Good morning, Matt.
Matt Lauer: So much for flying under the radar --
Matt Lauer: You’ve been in office for about six months now?
Governor Christie: Yes sir.
Matt Lauer: And you're making headlines. Let me give you a sample of what they’re saying and writing about you, okay. “The nation's most interesting governor,” “governor wrecking ball”, “a human bulldozer” and my personal favorite, “Chris Christie may look like Chris Farley, but in terms of conservative principles he's as sexy as Christie Brinkley.” Are they all right?
Governor Christie:<laughter> . Uh, well I don’t know about that last one. But you know listen, I think we’re taking a very direct, blunt approach to the problems. We're treating the people of New Jersey like adults. And tell them the truth, we’re in awful shape and we need to get it together.
Matt Lauer: That direct approach has included taking on, head on, some what are normally sacred -- unions, teachers, cops. Any regrets about the cuts you made and suggested so far? Are you worried at all down the line, a year from now, two years from now they may come back to haunt the people of New Jersey?
Governor Christie: My regret is that we didn't deal with this much sooner and it’s forced us to do this. And so all these cuts are tough Matt. And I – in a perfect world I wouldn't want to do them, but I'm not in a perfect world. I’m in a state where I have an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget with a balanced budget amendment. So, we had to do what we had to do.
Matt Lauer: And political correctness be damned, I want to show people an exchange. You took on the teachers union. You said to teachers in your state, look you might have to take a pay freeze for a year, you might have to pay for some of your own health benefits. And you got into a heated exchange at a town hall meeting. Take a look.
Teacher: Your not compensating me for my education and your not compensating me for my experience. That’s all.
Governor Christie: Well, you know what, then you don't have to do it.
<cheers and applause>
Governor Christie: I mean the simple fact of the matter is --
<cheers and applause>
Teacher: -- Teachers do it because they love it.
Governor Christie: The simple fact of the matter is this --
Teacher: -- Teachers do it because they love it.
Governor Christie: Well, that's good. Well then --
Teacher: -- That’s the only reason why I do it.
Governor Christie: And listen teachers go into it knowing what the pay scale is.
Matt Lauer: It's basically, you knew the deal, take it or leave it. Any fear on your part about fallout? These are teachers and that's a tough group to take on. Any fear of fallout on your part?
Governor Christie: I don't think you can lead out of fear. I mean listen, the fact of the matter is that the teachers union in New Jersey has demanded 4% and 5% increases in a 0% inflation world. That they pay nothing, the majority of teachers in New Jersey, for family health benefits from the day they are hired to the day they die. The people being ravaged from the recession are being asked to provide shelter to people from the recession. We just can’t have it. So I think that the politically correct approach doesn't work anymore. We have to talk directly about these problems and solve them.
Matt Lauer: Are you reacting in some ways governor to what has happened inside the Republican Party long known as the party of fiscal responsibility? It took on a slightly different reputation over the last dozen or so years. Did the party lose sight of it’s core responsibilities?
Governor Christie: Yeah, I think it did. And you know the reason I became a Republican when I was 18 years old and voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 was because he articulated the ideas of lower spending, smaller government, common sense regulation, lower taxes. And I feel over the last few years we’ve lost our way. We have to get back to those core things that I think that's what people in New Jersey, at least, want to hear.
Matt Lauer: Let me ask you about something that’s happening today. President Obama is coming to your state a little later on. I know you're going to greet him. He's here, in part, to push for legislation that would help small businesses. Do you agree with that legislation? Are you in favor of it?
Governor Christie: What I'm in favor of is trying to lower taxes and lower regulation on small businesses so they can spend some of their own money creating jobs. The one thing we know is we need more private sector jobs and so far the economy isn’t producing them.
Matt Lauer: But based on what you have seen in the legislation he is pushing, will you support that legislation? Because you do agree with him on some of the things he's done for the economy.
Governor Christie: Well, I agree with on things like education and educational reform, renewable energy and doing those kind of things. And I’ve been vocal in my support of him. But I think he has to get back to the core principles as well. And I think that's what he’s hearing from the public, I know that’s what he’ll hear in Edison today.
Matt Lauer: Alright. You made headlines also for another reason over the weekend. You're smiling already. You took on the ‘Jersey Shore’ -- not the geographic location but the television show. You said that the show is negative for New Jersey. Now, I get the whole “governor wrecking ball” thing and taking on teachers is one thing, taking on Snooki and ‘The Situation?’
Governor Christie: Yeah, well listen, Snooki and ‘The Situation’ are New Yorkers. You know, as you know. So, fact of the matter is they parachute all these people from New York on to the Jersey Shore and they say that this is New Jersey. It's not New Jersey. If you want to come to the Jersey Shore, six --seven weeks left in the summer, let's go. I’ll show you the real Jersey Shore.
Matt Lauer: Some people are say they though that they’re good for the economy in the towns along the Jersey Shore, that they’ve increased tourism. You’re a guy that needs money in your state.
Governor Christie: Yeah listen, we'll find other ways to increase tourism. We'll take ‘Snooki and ‘The Situation,’ and you can have them back.
Governor Christie: I’ll do something else, you know, seriously Matt.
Matt Lauer: All of a sudden you're dumping them on me?
Governor Christie: Hey listen, they’re yours to begin with Matt. I don’t have problems here. $11 billion deficit, I have to take ‘Snooki and ‘The Situation’ also. Come on. So much a man can take Matt.
Matt Lauer: Governor Chris Christie, governor it's good to have you here.
Governor Christie: Thanks, Matt. Great to be here.
Matt Lauer: Thank you very much. 19 minutes after the hour. Once again here's Meredith.