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
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.”

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