Gets extended Brian Williams interview on “Nightly.”
“I don’t think President Obama does angry well.”
Excerpts from Christie interview with NBC’s Brian Williams:
CHRISTIE’S ASSESSMENT OF THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Where I’ve been most disappointed has been I really thought he had the opportunity, even though I didn’t vote for him. I think he had the opportunity to be a transformational figure. I thought because of his charisma, because of the way he presented himself to the public and the things he said during the campaign he believed in. That he could in fact go beyond partisanship.
And where I’ve been disappointed is I think he’s been incredibly partisan. Now, that’s not to say Republicans haven’t been partisan, too, because they have. But when you’re President, your obligation, I think, is to, is to set the tone. And to embarrass the others into changing theirs. And I’ve been disappointed in the real partisan tone the President has taken. Both in terms of the policies and in terms of his rhetoric.
And now, he seems kind of angry about things, when I see him out on the campaign trail. And I don’t think that President Obama does angry well. I don’t think that suits him well. And so, I’ve been really disappointed in that regard.
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA:
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: I think he respects me. I obviously believe he does, because he appointed me to this Trade Council. And I’m happy to serve. And when they called and asked me, I didn’t care about our partisan differences or anything else. When the President of the United States calls and asks you to serve, unless you have a principled reason why you can’t, you say: “Yes, sir.” Because he’s the President of the United States. And I felt that way from the day he was elected. There’s only been 44 of ‘em, Brian. And they deserve the respect that the office holds. And I have that respect for the President.
GOV. CHRISTIE ON THE TRANS-HUDSON PASSENGER RAIL TUNNEL, MORE COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE HUDSON RIVER TUNNEL PROJECT:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Coming up tomorrow, you revisit the tunnel decision. You really, really took it on the chin. Op-ed page, New York Times, Bob Herbert: “The nation that built the Erie Canal and the Hoover Dam and the Transcontinental Railroad can’t even build a tunnel beneath the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York.” Another one: “Cancelling the tunnel was a blow to the national hopes of recovery, part of a pattern of penny-pinching that has played a large role in our continuing economic stagnation.” Defend your decision.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Have Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman come with their checkbooks to New Jersey. I can’t pay for it. It’s, they’re, we’re talking $2 to $5 billion over the current New Jersey investment, which is $5.7 billion of the total $8.7 billion cost. Brian, I don’t have the money.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: But couldn’t you find the money? Isn’t there a way? If you really wanted it. If you really wanted it for a long-term investment. The United States has found a way. We couldn’t afford the Marshall Plan after we were depleted from World War II.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Listen, we’re one State. We’re the State of New Jersey. And no, I can’t find the money. I can’t print money like the Federal Government. The Marshall Plan was funded by deficit financing. I don’t have the opportunity to have deficit financing. And right now, Brian, I have the third highest debt load of any state in America.
I cannot add to that debt load and be responsible. And I don’t have the money to pay for this. So, now, you know, it was estimated to be $9 billion. We were willing to put our $5.7 billion on the table. But I’m not, I cannot afford to put close to $10 or $11 billion on the table. The people of New Jersey don’t have the money. We’re the highest taxed state in America. The third highest debt load in America. Where are we getting this money from?
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Not a bargaining position?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: No.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: They couldn’t come back to you with anything satisfactory?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well, they could. They want to pay for it?
BRIAN WILLIAMS: They gotta bring their checkbook?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Bring your checkbook. I mean, Mayor Bloomberg, “I think this is a great project.” I called him and said, “Mike, bring your checkbook.” I mean, these are, this tunnel’s bringing people into New York City every day, Brian. But the City of New York and the State of New York aren’t contributing a nickel to this.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: They come home every night to New Jersey, where they spend money and raise families and hopefully are happy and the children are well-educated.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Absolutely. Yeah, but I mean, I’m not saying New York should pay for it by themselves. But why is New Jersey paying for it by itself?
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Do you want to be the guy who killed the greatest public works project at the depths of the modern day recession?
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: I want to be the guy who restored fiscal sanity to New Jersey. That’s what I want to be. That’s my obligation. And I don’t want to kill this. But I am not gonna be irresponsible for it. And I think, candidly, calling it the greatest public works project in the history is kind of a stretch.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Well, in modern history, during a recession. I’m just quoting others.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: I understand. They’re wrong, not you.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: The Times goes on: “Here’s how you should think about the decision to kill the tunnel. It’s a terrible thing in itself, but beyond that, it’s a perfect symbol of how America has lost its way.” You’re being tied to the nation losing its way by dint of this decision.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Yeah, by The New York Times. I’ll take a deep bow for that, Brian. I don’t really care. They don’t have the responsibility to balance the budget.
ON BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Governor, here we are discussing the collected works of Bruce Springsteen. It’s probably a perfect place to begin a conversation. You’re now Governor. I’ve seen you at shows. You’ve clocked over 100 concerts. You’ve donated fully to the Springsteen Family College Fund. Does it upset you that because of a difference in your politics, you don’t get access to the State’s most prominent artist?
GOV. CHRISTIE: Well, as a fan, it drives me crazy, not just because I’m Governor. I mean, I wanted access when I was just a fan, buying tickets to the show. But– but in the end, you know, I go to his shows for the same reason I think you do, which is it’s an extraordinary bit of escapism. And tie back to who I am.
And I was trying to explain this to someone recently that when “Born To Run” came out and I was 13 years old and I put that on the turntable for the first time and listened to those words, it made me feel so connected to where I was from and that someone actually understood me through those words. And so, I still feel that way when I sit at shows. And so I do have some minor disappointment, but I’m not willing to get too upset it, because I still want to go see him.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: I’ve always said the same thing. It was validating to Jersey kids to hear that one of their own had not only made it but had written about it in such a beautiful fashion. And suddenly made life growing up as a kid in Jersey seem not half bad.
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Yeah, yeah, kind of cool. We had Bruce. And I say to people all the time that say, “What about corruption and the other things that New Jersey get’s known for?” And I always say, “Yeah, but we had Bruce.” And nobody else does.