Transcript From A Segment Of Governor Christie’s Keynote Speech At The Foundation For Excellence In Education Dinner In Washington, DC On Tuesday, November 30, 2010
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:
Our children need us to remember that bipartisanship can work when it’s focused on results for them and not for us. Our children need us to remember, that those of us in charge can’t back down from the status quo because its roots are deep and the special interests are entrenched, and backing down only emboldens them. The old way no longer works. And every day that passes has a real and unacceptable consequence for not only our kids, but for future generations of children. And now we have to engage in the fight and each of us has to take up our individual role, whatever it is, because failure cannot be an option here, it simply can’t. I’d rather lose an election, I’d rather lose my career, than look back and realize that I didn’t do enough for the future lives of the children in my state. Now listen, this is [applause].
I tell people this all the time. I’m getting the oil portrait in the State House. Like that’s done. I won once, so I’m getting the big oil painting. [laughter] When I walk out to do my press conferences, I see Tom’s father all the time, he’s got the oil painting, right. And I see all the other recent governors, they got the oil paintings. All we’re arguing over now is the little brass plaque at the bottom, right? [laughter] Does it say four years or eight years? That’s all that’s left. So here’s the thing: when I bring my grandchildren back to the State House, and I show them that painting – because I want to prove to them, crazy grandfather really was Governor. [laughter] They’re not going to believe it, you know that. My own children don’t believe it at the moment. When I show them that painting, they’re going to ask me, I hope, what did you do, Grandpa, what did you do? I don’t want to say, well first, let me direct your attention to the little brass plaque at the bottom of that painting: eight years, not a minor accomplishment for a Republican in New Jersey, let’s start there. [laughter and applause] They say yeah, but what did you do? I said well, I got the eight years. And to get the eight years, I had to compromise my principles, I had to get in bed with some special interests that I didn’t really approve of, and I had to suppress my own personality. But, eight years on the plaque, kids, eight years on the plaque. I don’t want to say that.
I want to be able to say - whatever that plaque says - I want to be able to say to them: every day I was in this job, I was thinking about whether you could live here, whether you’d want to live here, whether the same way my parents got to get in the car and drive twenty-five minutes to watch my kids play baseball. The same way they got to get in the car to drive twenty-five minutes to go that Christmas concert or that spring play. The same way they got to get in the car and drive twenty-five minutes to go to that little birthday party that you have around the kitchen table, where they got to take the dozen pictures of the kids blowing out the candles. That’s what I want. My parents had it, I want it. I don’t want to get on an airplane to go see my grandchildren. I want them to be in New Jersey. I am one of the most blessed people in the world because I get a chance to make that happen. I don’t have to leave it to fate or chance, I get a chance to make it happen. So whatever that plaque says underneath it, I want them to say that that’s what I was focused on every day, not just for me, but for them, for their friends, for the other children in New Jersey who wanted the same thing themselves - that wanted to achieve every one of the dreams and aspirations that they had. And wanted to believe that when their parents said to them, you can be anything you want to be, as long as you work hard enough – that it came true.
So that’s not only up to me, it’s up to all of us. We have to stand together. This is the fight worth having. We just have to have the courage to do it. We have to have the courage to care more about children than we care about adults. We have to have the courage to stand up to those people who say it’s not possible. We have to have the courage to not care about how we’ll be judged in the short term, but to care only about how our children will judge us. Because they will, every generation judges their parents.