NEWARK – The GOP crowd has cleared out of here, leaving all but reporters to face the newly declared gubernatorial candidate, and here comes Chris Christie to stand in front of the podium and answer questions.
He won’t discuss specific cuts to the state budget. Not yet. He promises a detailed four-year plan in the coming weeks.
“We can do it responsibly,” he says. “We will discuss our priorities. I’m not going to get into specifics about percentages.”
A reporter asks him how he thinks he can convince New Jerseyans that he will be able to get his mind around the enormous economic issues confronting the state.
Christie says people had doubts about him eight years ago before he successfully tackled his U.S. Attorney’s job.
“I handled it,” he says.
Will he consolidate towns? Which ones?
“I would not force consolidation,” he says. “I have no idea if Princeton Township and Princeton Borough should merge. I would encourage shared services.”
Reporters try to goad him into throwing a rhetorical punch at Gov. Jon Corzine and he more or less demures.
“I like Jon Corzine,” Christie says. “We’ve always gotten along quite well. He’s disappointed us.”
Of the federal economic stimulus package the U.S. Congress passed last week without Republican support, the GOP candidate says, “The focus is incorrect. The focus should be on tax cuts and much less on pork spending.”