On Thursday, embattled Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie held his first town hall meeting with the state’s citizens since the whole Bridgegate scandal broke open. Christie spoke to the residents of Middletown. Middletown is a city that was hit hard during Superstorm Sandy and has had a tough time rebuilding. So it would make sense that many of the questions to the Governor would be regarding Sandy aid and the rebuilding of Jersey communities.
However, one odd thing happened at the event. Christie had absolutely no questions asked of him by the attendees about Bridgegate. Not a one. Despite the fact that the scandal has been all over the state’s local news, not to mention national news, the Governor was able to avoid having to answer one question surrounding the closure of the George Washington Bridge back in September. Even though there was a protest going on RIGHT OUTSIDE the town hall event, somehow, Christie was able to field 90 minutes worth of questions with nary a one dealing with the ongoing scandal.
If you were to ask me, it would appear that Christie’s staff vetted all the questions before the event and only had the Governor answer non-Bridgegate related questions. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo thought the same thing and called Christie’s camp up. Of course, he was told that none of the questions were vetted and it just so happened that not a single person thought to ask Christie a question about the biggest story, by far, surrounding him and his administration.
You know how Christie is going to play this. He is going to insist that all of the questions asked were completely legitimate and that there were no shenanigans going on. Simply, that nobody at a town hall, with supposedly open access to Christie, wanted to ask the Governor his thoughts about the scandal surrounding him. Christie will then insist that the scandal is nothing more than a media concoction, proven by the fact that the salt of the earth residents of Jersey don’t care about it all.
The town hall seemed like a way for Christie to come off as loved by his constituents. Oddly, despite his falling poll numbers both statewide and nationally, the event was more or less a Christie love-fest. He was able to blame certain Sandy-related problems on the federal government and FEMA, instead of taking any real responsibility himself. He got cheap and easy applause by simply pointing the finger at the federal government and saying they are the problem. That they are making it difficult for him to help them like he wants.
Christie’s camp might say that the questions weren’t pre-screened and that the audience wasn’t hand picked. However, at this point, can we even believe anything from this man or his administration? It seems like we get a new revelation of him lying, covering something up or using his position for retribution or currying favors every single day now. Can we take the statement that this was a legitimate town hall where everyone was invited and all questions were on the table at face value? I have a hard time doing that.
Update: According to Blue Jersey, the audience was pre-screened for the town hall. So, yes, Chris Christie held a rigged town hall today.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).