Republican president candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his answer to a student who asked him at a New Hampshire event Monday about his response to flooding in his home state, calling it a “joke.”
After questioning her characterization of flooding “all over the state,” he quipped back: “Do you want me to go down there with a mop?”
In a Tuesday press conference, Christie hit back at critics of his comments.
“No, it’s a joke, you don’t like the joke. You don’t like it, that’s all,” he said to a reporter. “It was a joke. If you don’t like the joke, you can tell me you don’t like the joke. It’s a joke. And [New Jersey residents] can tell me the same thing. I don’t think you represent the voters of New Jersey, the last time I checked.”
He also accused the female student who asked the question of being a “plant” for another campaign, after she did not give him the phone numbers of her supposed friends and family in New Jersey. Christie asked her at the rally to give him the phone numbers so that he could personally call all of them later that night.
“I asked her for them. She wouldn’t give them to me,” he said. “I think she was a plant. Not only because I asked her, but a whole bunch of reporters asked her, too. And she wouldn’t give them to anybody. … Either she’s a really shy person who asked the first question in a town hall meeting and overcame her shyness … or something else was afoot. I suspect it was the latter.”
Christie did apologise Tuesday to another person who said he was offended by Christie’s Monday response to the student’s question: North Wildwood, New Jersey, Mayor Patrick Rosenello (R). Christie called Rosenello “crazy” for saying that the flooding from Winter Storm Jonas was worse than it was from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“I heard one crazy mayor down in South Jersey say this is worse flooding than Sandy,” Christie said at the Monday rally in Hooksett, New Hampshire. “Here’s the one thing you need to know about that mayor. His town didn’t get hit by Sandy. So of course it’s worse than Sandy for him!”
Rosenello, who said Christie’s lack of compassion to those who suffered through the storm was unlike anything he’d ever seen before, seemed to forgive the candidate for his comments.
“He apologised to me. He also asked me to apologise to the first responders and the residents and the the business owners,” he told 98.7 The Coast. “I think he recognises that he misspoke, and he did.”
“I think he knows he misspoke,” he continued. “We know that he misspoke.”
Christie’s comments led another Republican politician in New Jersey to have “pause” on his endorsement of the governor for president.
“All along, I’ve felt that Christie becoming president would mean good things for New Jersey, so he has had my endorsement,” New Jersey Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R) told Politicker New Jersey. “That said, some of his comments over the past few days give me pause. … Based on his comments, I’m considering reconsidering.”
Here’s what the front pages of some New Jersey newspapers looked like this morning in the aftermath of Christie’s “mop” comment:
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