Nebraska attorney David Begley continues his series of reports on appearances of the presidential candidates in Iowa for us. Yesterday Paul Mirengoff and Dave met up to attend the appearance of Chris Christie in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Paul’s impressions are set forth in the adjacent post. Omaha’s WOWT News has posted its report with video here. Dave’s report is below.
Paul Mirengoff and I attended the Chris Christie town hall at the Glory Days bar in Council Bluffs. I don’t want to give an estimate on attendance but we were packed in shoulder-to-shoulder. The room should have been three times bigger.
In Friday’s Wall Street Journal Kim Strassel nailed his appeal as a candidate. He’s a good communicator who works in an occasional zing of humor. He focuses “on the debacle of a Democrat White House.” His potential voters “want hard truths, no matter how hard.”
The Governor took over 20 questions and the event lasted about 100 minutes. As he gave his detailed and specific answers to good substantive questions I was thinking that the current debate format really is no service to voters. I’m guessing his speaking time so far in three debates has been under 30 minutes.
I think voters really deserve to hear much more from the top candidates. I also think voters should discount the current polls. A recent Monmouth University poll stated that only 19 percent of Iowa voters are completely settled on a candidate. This confirms my experience.
Paul and I had a delightful chat with a couple from Red Oak. They are friends with Senator Joni Ernst and her family. Like many in Iowa, they have a top two or three candidates but are still undecided. Voters can change their minds and the polls should be viewed accordingly. Scott Walker’s backers abandoned him quickly.
Christie recognized the current uncertainty of the electorate when one questioner said she was undecided and he said he loved her. He then stated that he will give voters direct answers and is a truth teller. The tacit contrast is to Mrs. Clinton, who has taken zero questions from voters in the three events in Iowa I have attended. And, of course, she is a liar. Her events are like the Queen and her court visiting the worshipful peasants.
Christie started his remarks by responding to the New York Times editorial that he drop out. His answer? “I know that I will be the next President and I will beat their candidate.” He later observed he has been in the middle of the most aggressive liberal media market in the country his entire time as governor and that he has not been taken down. He will call out the media when he is asked a stupid question.
In a very effective part of his presentation he contrasted himself with Secretary Clinton. As governor he had the Bridgegate scandal. He fired his employees who were responsible. He answered all media questions for nearly two hours. He was exonerated by three investigations. Contrast that with Mrs. Clinton’s version of accountability on Benghazi, an event where four Americans died and weren’t simply stuck in traffic. No one was fired. She lied immediately and directly. She sent employee Susan Rice out to lie for her repeatedly. After years of fake investigations the American people finally got proof of her prevarications, but the media declared her the winner. Christie added that the House panel preened and posed for the cameras and failed to realize that the focus should have been on Hillary rather than on themselves. I could not agree more.
The Governor used the word “tested” and “experienced” frequently and emphasized the fact that he won elections in heavily Democratic New Jersey. Did you know he won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote? I didn’t. By building effective personal relationships with Democratic legislators he claimed to have been able to get things done while cutting taxes by $2 billion. Although he politically disagrees with the Dems’ leader, he socializes with him. President Obama, on the other hand, had Speaker Boehner on Air Force One a single time in 7 years.
The very first question was about Israel. Christie: “It sickens me how Obama criticizes Bibi more than the mullahs.” Cheers.
Paul Mirengoff asked him about the Senate’s Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. Christie said he wouldn’t offer an opinion as he had not read the bill. That’s how a professional responds: If you don’t know, say it. He then went on to describe what he did to reform New Jersey state law. First time users get treatment but dealers and violent criminals get no break. He does not agree with mass prisoner releases.
I asked the Governor the same question I directed to Carson and Cruz on the Clean Power Plan. New Jersey has joined 25 other states seeking an injunction to stop these regulations. The lead editorial in Friday’s Wall Street Journal stated that the EPA’s own models predict the closure of 223 coal-fired power plants in 2016 alone.
Christie simply said the federal government had overreached with the Clean Power Plan. That is a very nice way to put it. He said the states would win. He declined my suggestion that New Jersey declare itself a sanctuary from these federal regulations because “I am not a lawless guy.” He is also an “all of the above” energy guy. I liked his answer.
He expressed his opposition to Obamacare. He expressed support for the Renewable Fuel Standards law on the ground that capital has been sunk into the projects and it is current law. He noted that federal law prohibits the sale of marijuana but Obama refuses to enforce federal law because he doesn’t like it. Theme: Christie is a Rule of Law guy.
He claimed to be the only candidate to have a detailed plan on entitlement reform and gave some highlights. He told the crowd to read the details on his website but conceded that it would put the reader to sleep faster than Ambien.
He got good applause on his Second Amendment stance. Criminals don’t obey gun laws and murder has increased greatly in Chicago and New York City where gun laws are strict.
While he is a tax cutter, the military would see increases because Obama has reduced our Army to the smallest it has been since World War II and we have the smallest Navy since World War I. Shocking but true. Even more shocking given the threats we now face.
Christie joined other GOP candidates who have said that vets should be able to go to private hospitals and doctors. He said Hillary’s recent claim that there is no crisis at the VA was “dispicable.”
There was no question on immigration.
He closed with a moving story about his mother’s death from lung cancer. He flew cross country on the red eye to be with her. When he arrived at the hopital she woke up and asked him what day it was and the time. He said Friday, 10:30 a.m. She told him to go to work. Chris said he would make up the time later for taxpayers. Her response was that over the years there had been nothing left unsaid between them and there would be no deathbed confessions. He agreed. He kissed her and went to work. She went into a coma that same day and died shortly thereafter.
The point of his story is that in his relationship with the American people he will tell voters everything and there will be no wondering about what he thinks and feels. After asking those in attendance for their vote, he said he was determined to be president and will fight hard for the job.
After the event I had a brief talk and photo with the Governor. He had a high opinion of my Creighton Law classmate and friend John McKay, former US Attorney in Seattle. Chris earned bonus points from me for that.