The politics of the gun-control debate was on full display Wednesday morning as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declined to say he would support President Obama if he proposes a ban on assault weapons.
Matt Lauer asked Christie that very question on The Today Show, but Christie pushed back.
"If that's all he proposes? If it's part of the program. All you're focusing on right now is gun control. What about the violence in our video games? … We need to have a conversation about all these things. We had a woman back in Camden who decapitated her child and then killed herself, high on crack. If we don't [deal] with the substance-abuse issue and mental-health issue that leads to violence, we're shortchanging the conversation," Christie said.
For Obama, Christie's hesitation to come out whole-heartedly in favor of gun control shows just how difficult it will be for the president to win over moderate Republicans such as Christie and conservative Democrats who rely on their good standing with the National Rifle Association to win support in their states and districts.
For Christie, who also appeared on Morning Joe and reiterated that any gun control would need to be part of a "complete package," standing with the president on this issue complicates his position in the GOP if he plans on running for president in 2016. Christie came into office pursuing a conservative agenda, but since superstorm Sandy hit, Christie warmed to Obama, complimented his leadership, and blasted House Republicans for failing to bring a relief bill to the floor soon enough. Siding with gun-control advocates would be a surefire way to weaken the governor's national position if he has ambitions to run for president in 2016.
But 2016 is far away when you're facing voters at home in 2013. For now, Christie is laser-focused on rebuilding the coastline, mentioning the storm by name 33 times in his State of the State address on Tuesday.
"Some things are above politics. Sandy was and is one of those things," the governor said.