NEW BRUNSWICK – Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Barbara Buono went on the offensive Friday, arguing Republican Gov. Chris Christie “manufactured” an attack against him in order to skirt around serious issues.
Buono’s campaign made a stop near Rutgers University to advocate in support of legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition at Garden State colleges.
The legislation is critical to thousands of New Jersey residents, she argued, and shouldn’t be overshadowed by non-campaign issues.
“The governor manufactured an attack on his appearance,” said Buono, referring to recent controversy over her supposed crack about Christie’s weight.
“Let me just say this to Chris,” she said. “I have a message for Chris Christie: I’ve got 99 problems with you, but your weight ain’t one.”
Buono was referring to the backlash she faced from the incumbent governor when stump video surfaced on the Internet some say showed her making a crack about Christie’s weight.
The governor slammed the state lawmaker for stooping to such levels, while Buono’s camp dismissed his assertion the snub was even a joke about his weight in the first place.
Buono maintained it’s a distraction.
“This is a very important issue that we’re meeting on today,” she said, referring to the pending legislation advocates say would afford thousands of residents the opportunity to pay in-state tuition costs.
“I think it’s important to state that we are not going to allow this governor’s [attempt] to distract from the issues at hand to cause us not to address them,” she said.
The bill, S2479/A3509, would permit so-called DREAMers who live in the state and attended local high schools to qualify for in-state tuition rates at state colleges regardless of immigration status.
The bill cleared one Senate committee and has yet to move in the General Assembly, although Buono says Christie’s lack of leadership has helped stall the legislation from progressing in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
“Where is he on this issue?” Buono asked. “Leaders lead all the time.”