Chris Christie Explains Chemical Weapons to Children

At an elementary school Q&A, the governor expounded on everything from tax policy to his building skills.

Gov. Chris Christie talks to a family in Moonachie, N.J., Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013.
National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Matt Berman
Sept. 6, 2013, 8:05 a.m.

New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, a likely 2016 pres­id­en­tial con­tender with a his­tory of us­ing col­or­ful lan­guage, faced one of his tough­er chal­lenges this week: field­ing ques­tions from ele­ment­ary-school stu­dents.

Christie vis­ited the Robert L. Craig Ele­ment­ary School in Moon­ach­ie, N.J., on Thursday to help re­open the school after it was sig­ni­fic­antly dam­aged dur­ing last year’s hur­ricane. While there, he spent about 40 minutes run­ning a Q&A with the school’s kids. And they came pre­pared.

Take this ques­tion, from a child named Jac­ob Mc­Cray, that riled up seem­ingly every­one.

Ap­par­ently, chil­dren are thrilled by tax policy.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion on Syr­ia from a 12-year-old who watches “a lot” of CNN, Christie said that chem­ic­al weapons are “an aw­ful thing,” but that the situ­ation is “com­plic­ated.” The gov­ernor may’ve been ton­ing down his lan­guage to speak to a preteen, but the rest of his an­swer on Syr­ia really isn’t so dif­fer­ent from what we’ve heard from oth­er politi­cians who are on the fence when it comes to a mis­sile strike:

I think the pres­id­ent is hav­ing a hard time fig­ur­ing ex­actly what it is he wants to do. We’ll see what the pres­id­ent and Con­gress come up with, but the use of those weapons is a bad thing and it’s not something that we should per­mit folks from coun­tries around the world to do.

Even the “bad thing” line isn’t so dif­fer­ent from the “bad guys” Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and Sen. John Mc­Cain, R-Ar­iz., told us about this week. Either Christie is par­tic­u­larly ad­ept at talk­ing with chil­dren like they’re adults, or — at least on Syr­ia — many politi­cians have been talk­ing to adults like they’re chil­dren.

Christie kept up the “bad things” talk when he got a ques­tion from a stu­dent on “il­leg­al guns.” There’s no solu­tion that can pre­vent all vi­ol­ence, Christie told the kids, be­cause “the truth is that bad people do bad things.”

The gov­ernor, at least ac­cord­ing to The Re­cord, en­joyed him­self at the Q&A, and answered every ques­tion that came his way. That in­cludes a re­sponse con­firm­ing that, un­like Sen­ate can­did­ate Cory Book­er, Christie has nev­er saved any­one from a burn­ing build­ing. And Christie didn’t build any of the trail­ers the school had used as tem­por­ary classrooms, be­cause it’s a “chal­lenge” for him to “build any­thing that really mat­ters.” 

And how about his job? “I love be­ing gov­ernor. You should try it one day.”


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.