Appearing at today’s Iowa Freedom Forum with other 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, Gov. Chris Christie packaged himself as a conservative, derided “failure” in the White House, poked at a “culture of distrust” and uncorked lines test driven in his State of the State Address earlier this month, including the anecdote about a worried Florida woman.
Slimmed down and tan, Christie smacked at former Vice President Al Gore with a reference to “our friend who invented the Internet,” and harped on President Barack Obama as “some imperial president.”
He identified what he said was the mood of the country. “It’s anxiety,” said Christie, retreading from his State of the State.
Wounded by polls at home, the corn husk stomping New Jersey governor patted himself heartily on the back for work well done, citing overhauling public pensions and benefits and teacher tenure reform.
He presented himself as a staunch pro-life Republican, who defied those political consultants who cautioned against that position in his run for governor. But he also extended the meaning of pro-life, as he sees it, including drug rehab.
“We need as a pro-life movement not to be talking about just those first nine months, but every month,” said Christie, speaking on the heels of headlines about him sniping an ex-Mitt Romney aide for on-the-ground work in Iowa.
Occupying his lowest place in the polls now, according to Quinnipiac and dragging his heels in Iowa, he hearkened back to 2013, citing his re-election success with Hispanic, African-American, independent and women voters.
Hispanics in the crowd didn’t all agree that Christie represents them.
A group of undocumented youth interrupted the prospective 2016 Presidential candidate.
Cesar Vargas of New York, shouted “Governor, do you stand with [Rep. Steve] King, or do you stand with us and our families? Do you think I’m deportable?” while others stood up with signs that read “DEPORTABLE?” in reference to Representative King’s comments about an undocumented student who attended the State of the Union address as a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Police arrested Vargas.
For years, King – who introduced Christie and after the governor’s speech proclaimed “Wow,” – has tried several times to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects certain undocumented individuals who came to this country as children.
“We are here today sending a message to the GOP presidential candidates, like Perry, that if they are serious about 2016, they need to stay as far as possible from Steve King and his hateful actions towards us” said Marco Malagon, a Dreamer from Texas and co-founder of the Texas Dream Team.
Christie cracked a joke about how the activist must not have known that the governor is from New Jersey.
In his speech, Christie read from notes in his speech following shoot-from-the-hip performances by former governors Sarah Palin of Alaska and Rick Perry of Texas.
He broke from the page when he revisited a story about his dying mother telling him to go work rather than linger at his bedside, an anecdote ripped from those statewide town hall excursions initiated in his first term.
“What we have in front of us is hard work, but what we will have before us is a second American century,” Christie said. “The world can’t do without a second American century. …I am here today because none of the patriots want to turn over an America smaller than the one we received.”
It ended on a heartfelt, seemingly unrehearsed note and prompted a strong, favorable response from the crowd.