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Christie Takes Oath for Second Term, Gives Inaugural Address; Detailing Some of the Problems Facing Chrstie's Administration
Aired January 21, 2014 - 11:52 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: And in this state.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Under the authority of the people.
CHRISTIE: Under the authority of the people.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: And then I will diligently.
CHRISTIE: I will diligently.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Faithfully.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Impartially.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Justly.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: And to the best of my knowledge and ability.
CHRISTIE: And to the best of my knowledge and ability.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Execute the said office.
In conformity with.
CHRISTIE: In conformity with.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: The powers delegated to me.
CHRISTIE: The powers delegated to me.
And that I will to the utmost of my skill and ability.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Promote the peace.
CHRISTIE: Promote the peace.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: And prosperity. CHRISTIE: And prosperity.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: And maintain the lawful rights.
CHRISTIE: And maintain the lawful rights.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Of the said state.
CHRISTIE: Of the said state.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: So help me God.
CHRISTIE: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Congratulations, Governor.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: So there you saw it. You saw it live, right here on CNN, Chris Christie being sworn in to a second term. Getting some hugs and kisses from his family there. Chris Christie re-elected in a landslide. Let's listen into some oh of the pomp and circumstance.
And so the celebration is beginning now in New Jersey. There you see, that's the lieutenant governor there. She is watching what's going on. We are, as well.
Welcome to this special edition of "CNN NEWSROOM." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
This would normally be Governor Christie's day to shine, as supporters hoped it might submit his status as a front runner to become the Republican Party's presidential nominally in 2016, but two controversies now overshadowing the governor's big moment. There you see the governor and his family. The -- our reporters and analysts are standing by.
We have special coverage of what's going on in New Jersey this hour. Chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; CNN investigations correspondent, Chris Frates.
Gloria, set the scene for us now. We're going to hear what Chris Christie says. He's not necessarily going to address the specific issue at hand, namely the charges, the allegations being leveled against him.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, he really isn't, Wolf. Just to set the scene for you. Everybody knows that Chris Christie has had an awful lot of difficulty lately. This is a man who won re-election by a landslide, who managed to get a lot of support from Democrats, as well as Independent voters. It was supposed to set the stage for a presidential campaign, and still may well set the stage for that. As somebody who is able to win bipartisan support. The stall on the George Washington Bridge, said he knew nothing about it. And over the last couple weeks, Wolf, more stories have come out, along the lines of the theme of did Chris Christie abuse his power as governor. And so as -- as he is sworn in today --
BLITZER: Gloria, hold - hold on for one moment, Gloria, because Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, she's being sworn in for a second term right now, as well.
LT. GOV. KIM GUADAGNO, NEW JERSEY: And the constitution of the state of New Jersey --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that I will bear true faith --
GUADAGNO: And that I will bear true faith --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And allegiance to the same -
GUADAGNO: And allegiance to the same -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to the governments -
GUADAGNO: And to the governments -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Established in the United States -
GUADAGNO: Established in the United States -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in this state -
GUADAGNO: And in this state -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under the authority of the people -
GUADAGNO: Under the authority of the people --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that I will faithfully -
GUADAGNO: And that I will faithfully --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impartially -
GUADAGNO: Impartially -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And justly -
GUADAGNO: And justly -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perform all the duties -
GUADAGNO: Perform all the duties -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the office of lieutenant governor -
GUADAGNO: Of the office of lieutenant governor -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the best of my ability.
GUADAGNO: According to the best of my ability.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
GUADAGNO: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
BLITZER: All right, so there it is, the lieutenant governor, who's also at the center of a political storm in New Jersey right now, allegations being leveled against her by the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, Dawn Zimmer, that she threatened to withhold Sandy -- Superstorm Sandy aid to Hoboken unless the mayor of Hoboken approved a real estate development project.
Chris Christie is now going to deliver his inaugural address. His second inaugural address. Let's listen in.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. (INAUDIBLE). Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you all very much.
Lieutenant Governor Guadagno, Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Prieto, Republican Leaders Kean (ph) and Bramnick, all the former governors and members of the supreme court, members of our congressional delegation, members of the New Jersey state legislature, members of my cabinet, family and friends.
Today, once again, the people of New Jersey have given me the opportunity to serve. And I thank each and every citizen for that honor. And once again, I have taken an oath where I've sworn to promote the peace and prosperity of our great state and its citizens. And a long oath it is, chief. A long one. It is an oath that I've lived by for the last four years, and it is the oath I will live by for every day I am privileged to call myself your governor.
The oath, though, is just a symbol of the bond that we have created with each other over the last four years. We have endured the worst economic recession of our lifetimes, and we have begun to triumph over it. We have confronted entrenched interests and their endless stream of money that have previously stood in the way of fiscal sanity for our state, and educational excellence for our children. Together, we have pushed those interests back and put our children's future first. We have survived the worst natural disaster in our state's history. And we have worked together to restore, renew and rebuild the state that we love.
Now, each one of these challenges have been met by a new, unified force in public life. A New Jersey, setting the tone for an entire nation. A tough New Jersey. A resilient New Jersey. A proud New Jersey. A New Jersey that has put aside political partisanship on the important issues to our people, to take advantage of the opportunities each of these challenges has presented us with every day. A New Jersey that's brought pride to our people, and leadership to our nation. And finally, this past November, New Jersey has had the chance to decide if the bonds we have formed were strong enough to endure the heat of today's political campaigns. Would our elections confirm that the change we set had arrived on this very stage four years ago, truly be beneficial for all of our citizens? Because you see, elections are about more than TV ads and debates and rallies. Each vote cast is an act of faith and trust. Faith in the strength of the bonds we have built, trust in the hope that tomorrow will bring a better job for our people, a better education for our children, and a better day for all of our citizens.
Now, the people -- now the people have definitively set the course for the next four years. They have affirmed the decision to take on the big problems. They have validated the idea that our answers to our problems must be bold. They have rewarded the principle that we must tell the truth about the depths of our challenges and the difficulty of real solutions.
And it wasn't just some of our people who affirmed this course. It was not a vocal plurality like four years ago. No, this time it was the largest and loudest voice of affirmation that the people of our state had given to any direction in three decades. Suburbanites and city dwellers, African-Americans and Latinos, women and men, doctors and teachers, factory workers and tradesmen, Republicans and Democrats and Independents, together they have demanded that we stay the course. They have helped set, to stand up for what is right. To fight the fights worth fighting. And most of all, to work together to make government work for each and every one of those voices of affirmation, for each and every one of our people.
You see, the people of this state know that the only way forward is if we are all willing to take on what is politically unpopular. If we are all willing to share in the sacrifice. If we are all willing to be in this together. Now, we have no moral option, in my view, but to heed the voice of the voters, and that is exactly what I intend to do.
Today, I thank all those who have once again placed their faith and trust in me, and I make this promise, I will not let up. I will insist we work together. And I will make this government truly work for those who pay for it.
You see, I do not believe that New Jerseyans want a bigger, more expensive government that penalizes success and then gives the pittens (ph) left to a few in the name of income equity. What New Jerseyans want is an unfettered opportunity to succeed in the way that they define success. They want an equal chance at the starting line, not a government guaranteed result.
Why? Because through hard work and being rewarded for that hard work, they know that they are part of their own success. We should make sure that government pursues policies that believe in the effort, the talent and the optimism of New Jerseyans, not in the power of all mighty government to fix any problem, real or imagined.
So let's be different than our neighbors. Let's put more money in the pockets of our middle class by not taking it out of their pockets in the first place. One of the lessons that I've learned most acutely over the last four years is that New Jersey can really be one state. Now this election has taught us that the ways we divide each other, by race, by class, by ethnicity, by wealth, and, yes, by political party, is neither permanent nor necessary. You see, our dreams are the same -- a good job, a great education for our children, safe streets in our neighborhood, and core values which give lives real meaning.
Those dreams are not unique to any one group in our state. And while government has a role in ensuring the opportunity to accomplish these dreams, we've now learned that we have an even bigger role to play as individual citizens. We have to be willing to play outside the red and blue boxes that the media pundits put us in. We have to be willing to reach out to others who look or speak differently than us. We have to be willing to personally reach out a helping hand to a neighbor or a friend suffering from drug addiction or depression or the dignity- stripping loss of a job.
New Jersey came together as one community when it mattered most, and now we must stay together, people of every background and belief, the government and our people, to help our fellow citizens reach their dreams. Now there are times when we need to get along and just get things done because as Pastor Joe Carter said just this morning at the New Hope Baptist Church, all of us may be one "yes" away from our miracle. Now, that's true for each of us as individuals, for our state and for our nation, just one "yes" away from our own miracle. For the fact is, that every one of God's creations has value. Every person, no matter what challenge they are facing in their lives, must believe that they have inside of them all of the God-given ability needed to be happy. And they will not believe that if all they hear from us is that life is unfair and that only government can fix that unfairness. They must first believe that self-worth comes from inside each of God's beings.
Now, government cannot solve every one of these problems. Government can only be one part of the solution. The unity our people have felt in the last year-plus, as we have confronted tragedy and challenge, must be the unity we build on to give every person a chance to reach their dreams. Now those dreams begin for everyone with a growing economy. This growth will not happen by following the path that some of our neighbors seem prepared to pursue. For those who prefer economic growth and opportunity to government redistribution and higher taxes, I have this to say to you today, come to New Jersey. You will be welcome here.
In addition to a growing economy, here is how our government, our government, our government will lead the effort to create opportunity in New Jersey. We will make it our priority to have every child in New Jersey have a chance to get a good education. No matter what adult we have to offend, no matter where you came from, no matter what sacred cow we must slay, no matter how much we have to change the conventional thinking, we will no longer stand for the achievement gap which exists between our best and least-educated children.
This government, our government, we will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse. We will make drug treatment available to as many of our nonviolent offenders as we can, and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands this simple truth.
Every life has value, and no life is disposable.
This government, our government, we will fight to continue to change so that we value our differences and we honor the strength of our diversity, because we cannot fall victim to the attitude of Washington, D.C. -- the attitude that says I am always right and you are always wrong; the attitude that puts everyone into a box that they are not permitted to leave; the attitude that puts political victories ahead of policy agreements; the belief that compromise is a dirty word.
You see, as we saw in December regarding the Dream Act, we can put the future of our state ahead of the partisans who would rather demonize than compromise.
As your governor, I will always be willing to listen, as long as that listening ends in decisive action for the people who are counting on us to do our job.
Because you see, in the end, I have had no greater honor in my life than having twice been elected by my fellow citizens to be the governor of the state of where I was born and raised.
With that honor comes solemn obligations to make the hard decisions, to raise the uncomfortable topics, to require responsibility and accountability, to be willing to stand hard when principles are being violated, and to be willing to compromise to find common ground with all of our people, to work, every day, night and day, to make New Jersey all it can be. In short, to be the governor.
To my fellow New Jersians, we started this journey together in the dark and foreboding time in our history, when hope was at a premium and trust had been squandered by a government that had been unwilling to tell you the truth.
Today, we enter the final leg of our journey together with more hope than we have had in years, and with the trust that comes from partners who have shared with each other the hard truths that come from decisive action.
We are at the dawn of a new age of pride and growth in our state and its people. Let us move forward with the strength that comes from the belief that we have in each other.
I believe in you, New Jersey, and I always, always will.
It's only fitting that in this administration, with more hurricanes, snowstorms, flooding and disaster of the natural sort, that of any administration I can remember in my lifetime, that we begin the second term in the same way.
So to the folks who could not quite make it down the New Jersey turnpike to be with us this morning, I understand.
To the hardy souls who are here, you have my thanks.
And I end by saying what comes directly from my heart. God bless you, God bless America, and God bless the great state of New Jersey.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching special live coverage of the inauguration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
I am Jake Tapper in Trenton, right outside the building where the governor just delivered his remarks, laying out his plans for the state.
You have to wonder, of course, will all of the controversy currently surrounding his administration complicate his efforts to get done the things he outlined in his speech. And what about a possible run for the White House in 2016?
Back with us from Washington, D.C., for our special live coverage, my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and CNN investigations correspondent, Chris Frates.
Wolf, your take on Governor Christie's speech? Does this help him at all? Will it help him get past any of the controversy, do you think?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": I think it will help him. I think it was a powerful speech, and he delivered the proper tone.
It would have been a really amazing speech if he didn't have these clouds of these current scandals in New Jersey hovering over. That would have been a nice step in the direction potentially toward a 2016 presidential run.
He's obviously being well-received right now. You look at that standing ovation he's receiving. He clearly wants to take the high road and try to bring everyone together in New Jersey.
Certainly not going to be easy, given some of the accusations that have been hurled against his own aides, accusations that he has acknowledged, especially in the decision to close some of those lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, which were totally inappropriate.
He's got a lot of problems right now, but I think on the whole, it was a very strong speech, a powerful speech, that will help him.
Let's just see if there is anymore evidence that links him to any of -- directly links him to any of these scandals.
If there isn't anymore evidence, then certainly he will be well on his way to recovering his political standing in New Jersey.
TAPPER: Gloria, there was a poll out yesterday, Pew, suggesting that Governor Christie's unfavorable ratings among Democrats and independents have doubled his poll numbers in general, taking a dip. How much trouble do you think he's in long term?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's hard to say, long-term.
There is a new poll out just an hour or so ago, which shows that Chris Christie has lost ground with the people he was talking about in this speech today, independent voters.
He made a point in the speech to talk about the broad coalition that got him elected as governor, and we all covered that, and Republicans were very impressed by it, as were Democrats, you know.
And he spoke about it today, saying that people had given him their faith and their trust, whether they were African-American, Latino, men or women.
And if you look at these poll numbers coming out today, you can see where his problem is. Those independent voters, you just put this up on the screen, 58 percent, do not believe him.
And as a governor who is talking about trust today, and in a match-up against Hillary Clinton, I know this is early, Jake, very early, but what was impressive was that he had been kind of neck-and-neck with her, and this latest Quinnipiac Poll shows that he is now lagging eight points behind her.
And it's those independent voters that have deserted him, at least for now. How he handles this will make a large difference in how we look at this six months from now. Everybody wants to see how Chris Christie handles this crisis.
TAPPER: Right. Of course, we are several political lifetimes away from 2016.
BORGER: Right, exactly.
TAPPER: Chris Frates, I want to bring you in here.
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, this is the one who has suggested that top officials of the Christie administration suggested that Sandy relief funds were tied to her approval of a development project in Hoboken.
She has long been a supporter of the governor. Were you surprised by the allegations she made over the weekend?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIONS: Well, I was, Jake, and here's why.
Because when the story broke and reporters started asking Jersey mayors, have you felt any retribution because you didn't endorse the governor, or did you feel pressured to endorse the governor, to receive Sandy funds?
Mayor Zimmer told a New York public radio station that, you know, she wondered if maybe she was getting retribution, but she certainly hoped that wasn't the case. I talked with her personally shortly after that, and she told me, quote, "I don't think it was retaliation, and I don't have any reason to think it was retaliation."
And then a week later on Saturday, we saw her say, "Actually, I do believe it was retaliation. I believe I didn't approve a development project that the governor favored. I believe that's why he's withholding Sandy funds from me."
And then on CNN on Sunday, she went a little bit further and tied the governor to it directly, saying that when she spoke to the lieutenant governor, the lieutenant governor said this message comes directly from Governor Christie. We need you to support that redevelopment plan in order to get Sandy funding.
And when the mayor has been asked, Well, why are you doing this now, particularly after you've been supportive of the governor? She tweeted earlier this summer she really supports Governor Christie.
You know, she said, Well, I was afraid to come out, but certainly Republicans are looking at this changing story, and wondering a little bit, is this a fish tale, where with each telling it gets a little bit bigger, and they're starting to wonder, who is telling the truth here?
TAPPER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. On the other side of the break, he'll speak with one of Governor Chris Christie's staunch defenders.
Back after the break.