New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday joined former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in lambasting the politics of obstructionism in Washington. In a speech to the Brookings Institution, the Republican vice presidential contender recalled his budget-cutting, pension-reforming battles — and ultimately, compromises — with the New Jersey Legislature.
“I would not ask anybody to compromise their principles. There’s too much of that in politics today to begin with. But I also have to get everyone to acknowledge you’re not going to get everything you want. And once you get acknowledgement on both sides of that equation, you can find and force compromise as an executive,” Christie said, adding that a good leader has to be able to “walk and chew gum at the same time.”
He contrasted what he described as his successful working relationship with a Democratic legislature with the “failed leadership by both parties” in Washington, which he said has created the “illusion” that nothing can get done at the federal level.
“Leadership is not just about obstructionism,” Christie said. “Leadership is also not about caving every time you get pushed. Leadership is about nuance and about understanding and communicating to people, ‘Here is what I stand for and on these issues I will not be moved,’ but then on other issues, leaving room for discussion and accomplishing principled compromise where it can be.”
Despite his call for bipartisanship, Christie also seemed to be gearing up for a summertime political battle with Democrats back home over lowering taxes for the middle class after a last-minute deal fell through recently. He accused state Democrats of refusing to deal in good faith because they want to deprive him of the opportunity to tout the tax cut at the Republican National Convention in August.
But he also assumed a portion of the blame, saying that the responsibility for problem-solving lies with the chief executive. He criticized a culture of “political consultants whispering in our ear, telling us to say as little as possible.”
“If they kick you out of office, they kick you out of office,” he said. “It seems to me it’s not the end of the world.”
Last month, Bush also lamented the hyper-partisanship in Washington. During a Bloomberg News breakfast meeting with reporters in June, Bush suggested that his father and even President Reagan would have had a “hard time” fitting into today’s GOP because they were willing to work with congressional Democrats.