Liberals, conservatives, and almost everybody else in between are hammering New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) after he defended parents’ “choice” to not vaccinate their kids against the measles.
“It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official,” Christie said Monday when asked about recent measles outbreaks in the US, according to The New York Times. “I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”
The comment drew immediate rebuke from observers who accused him of embracing anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists. Some parents claim measles vaccines are linked to autism and choose not to vaccinate their kids; this idea has been widely debunked by the federal government and medical community who say the anti-vaccine movement has contributed to a resurgence in measles cases.
Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown was one of many who predicted Christie’s comment would actually doom his potential 2016 presidential campaign.
“Insane. Christie is done,” Brown wrote on Twitter.
Republican strategist Rick Wilson fired off a number of tweets declaring Christie just “disqualified” himself from the White House.
“I’m as libertarian as it comes, but the social contract includes not letting your kids die of preventable diseases or spread them to others,” Wilson said. “Not dinging Christie because I have another dog in the 2016 fight. It’s because this statement is wildly irresponsible for a public figure.”
The media also joined in on the Christie criticism.
“Wow, I’m getting really sick of politicians who deny basic science,” Political Wire’s Taegan Goddard wrote.
Noah Rothman, of the right-leaning news site Hot Air, contrasted President Barack Obama’s “correct” stance on vaccinations with Christie’s. Obama said in a pre-Super Bowl interview Sunday that “the science is indisputable” and parents should definitely vaccinate their kids.
“This comment was a bizarre one,” Rothman said of Christie. “It is an unforced error. It has hurt his political brand and made Barack Obama appear a model of guileless honesty in comparison. What was Christie thinking?”
Business Insider asked Christie’s office if it wanted to clarify or add additional context to the governor’s remarks. His spokesman said he had nothing to add.
According to The Daily Beast, this is not the first time Christie has defended those who do not want to vaccinate their kids. Christie reportedly wrote a letter in 2009 allying himself with anti-vaccine advocates who oppose “New Jersey’s highest-in-the nation vaccine mandates.”
“I have met with families affected by autism from across the state and have been struck by their incredible grace and courage,” Christie reportedly said then. “I stand with them now, and will stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children.”
Update (10:25 a.m.): Christie’s office subsequently sent a statement to reporters with the full transcript of his vaccination comments on Monday. Kevin Roberts, a Christie spokesman, added: “To be clear: The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated. At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate.”
Update (10:39 a.m.): With The Daily Beast report.
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