ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ripped California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday, saying that the state’s voters should have elected Meg Whitman but instead went with a “retread” who is failing to lead.
“California made the bad choice by going with an old retread," Christie told California’s delegation to the Republican National Convention, a crowd that lapped up his message. “Let me tell you this – I cannot believe you people elected Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman. … Jerry Brown. Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.”
Christie said the 74-year-old, three-term governor told him that he’s not trying to raise taxes, that he is allowing voters to decide by putting a tax proposal on the ballot.
“Man, that's leadership, isn’t it?” Christie said.
A spokesman for Brown said Christie was trying to deflect attention from rising unemployment in New Jersey. “It’s no wonder Gov. Christie wants to distract from his massive failure with a windstorm of rhetoric,” said Gil Duran.
Christie, who will be the keynote speaker at the convention on Tuesday, held up his state as evidence for dispirited California Republicans that conservatives can win in a Democratic state.
“The message I want to deliver to California this morning is there is hope. There is hope,” Christie said, speaking in the lobby of the Tradewinds resort at a delegate breakfast that had to be moved indoors because of the weather caused by Tropical Storm Isaac. “Don’t give up on the fact California can be governed. You’ve seen it governed before. You’ve seen it governed effectively. California once did have great governors like Gov. Pete Wilson. ” Wilson was in the audience.
Christie said Romney’s leadership skills are why he was the first governor to endorse Romney last year, and he slammed Obama as “nothing more than a Chicago ward politician.”
Whitman introduced Christie at the event, and both reminisced fondly about a 2010 campaign appearance in Los Angeles where he defended her from a heckler. After a protester accused Whitman of ducking questions and “looking like Arnold in a dress,” Christie stood up, moved between the two of them and shot back, “You want to yell? Yell at me."
“I was just thrilled to death to be defended by Chris Christie,” Whitman said on Monday.
Christie said he enjoyed the town hall.
“You’ve got two choices with a bully. You can either sidle up to him or punch him in the face first. We decided to punch first,” he said.