TRENTON — Governor Corzine today reiterated that he does not plan to go to Washington if Barack Obama wins the presidential election, but he still wouldn’t rule out the prospect indefinitely.
“I like what I’m doing. I think that, given the opportunity to stay fixing the finances, getting us into a position where we’re growing the economy and we’re not fighting a national recession, where we are improving the education of our children and expanding health care—doing the things I think the public would like to see in the long run — I’ll be more than happy to have a few more years of this and go sit on the beach,” said Corzine during a 30 minute session with reporters.
But when asked if he would categorically say that he would not go to Washington if appointed to a cabinet position by Barack Obama, Corzine responded “I don’t even know what categorically means.”
Instead he repeated “I like what I’m doing.”
Still, Corzine said that he’s not irritated by the speculation that he would take a cabinet position as Secretary of Treasury, which has buzzed around him since he became one of the most prominent backers of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign (A recent Zogby found that a plurality of New Jerseyans think Corzine should take a cabinet position if offered one).
Nor is Corzine bothered by the Democratic gubernatorial jockeying already taking place, with Essex County Executive Joe Divincenzo, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, and State Sen. Stephen Sweeney all expressing interest in running – if Corzine decides not to seek a second term.
“I think it’s perfectly reasonable that people who want to position themselves, if they were serious about running and they thought there was some small probability,” he said.
Corzine heads to Denver tomorrow, when he’ll hand the acting governorship to Senate President Dick Codey (D-West Orange), according to the Associated Press. When Codey leaves on Monday, Attorney General Anne Milgram will fill in the role, since the third-in-line, Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts (D-Camden) will also be in Denver.
Corzine said that the New Jersey delegation’s Clinton supporters are fully on board the Obama bandwagon.
“They’re going to make a stand in showing respect for Hillary, and they’re going to make a stand behind Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States,” said Corzine. “There are always going to be, in any political contest, a few people at the margins that are not going to accept comfortably the outcome. But the vast, vast majority of people I know – and I know the Hillary campaign probably as well as anyone in the country – are on board, increasingly fired up.”
When asked where he would spend the bulk of his time in Denver – with the nationally prominent Democrats or with the state delegation – Corzine said he’ll “probably be a little schizophrenic.”
Corzine also downplayed his influence on Obama’s rise to stardom, even though he recognized him 2004, when Corzine was the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).
“Barack Obama brought himself to the scene, and Jon Corzine recognized when he was running for the Senate that this was a very special person and the party should go out of its way to nurture the talent and the capacity that he has,” he said.
Still, Corzine acknowledged that the DSCC ignored its usual neutrality in Senate races in order to give Obama a boost in his primary race – even when one of the candidates – M. Blair Hull – had ties to Goldman Sachs.
“We played substantial favorites with regard to Obama because he was a class act, even to the exclusion of a guy who worked at Goldman Sachs,” said Corzine.