I suspect you’ve already heard that New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced that he is not running for president at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in the gritty state capital, Trenton (pictured in the photo above). If this sounds like old news, it is. Calls for Christie to step into the race for the GOP presidential nomination have been rising since mid-August, when Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota dropped out. After Texas Governor Rick Perry’s less than sterling performance at the September 22nd debate, Christie was roundly hailed as the seemingly ideal candidate, if he would only be a candidate.
But ever since there was talk of Christie running, the former US Attorney for New Jersey and first-term governor has been insisting that he will not. At one point, he proclaimed “what do I have to do to convince you that I’m not running for president, commit suicide?” Christie has won adoring praise from his supporters for similar trademark brusque quips though I’ve found that particular remark eerie. While one can conceive of how Christie might have become weary of fending off calls to run (while not minding the ego-stroking attention), it seems a bit excessive to threaten that he would “take himself out” in order to finally convince everyone that he is not running.
Even though he has stood up those ardent suitors, Christie has still been winning praise for saying that “Now is not my time.” His work as governor of New Jersey is indeed far from done. Just blocks from the state capital in Trenton where Christie told us once again he won’t run, the New York Times’s Mike Powell describes the hard realities of living in a state where unemployment is higher than it was a year ago and private-sector jobs are shrinking:
In Trenton on Friday, I stepped out of a State House hot with presidential fever, crossed State Street and walked a block north. A gentleman offered to sell me a nickel bag of pot. I apologized that the timing was all wrong, and continued down a tenement block to Calhoun Street….
Trenton’s mayor, Tony Mack, recently let go one-third of his police force. He knows this is demented public policy, but state aid cuts have left him with a $27 million hole in his budget.
Mr. Mack occupies a City Hall where the white marble is stained green and crumbling. Weeds are conducting hostile takeovers of flower beds. “It’s a pretty dismal picture right now,” he said.
Trenton’s violent crime rate is three times that of New York City’s but New Jersey has, per capita, a third fewer police officers. According to Mack, while there has been “dialogue,” there hasn’t been any added revenue to the situation — just last week, a popular restaurant was shot up and someone else fired a semiautomatic pistol into parked cars, with the police collecting 61 bullet shells.
Photo of Trenton taken by Eva and Rodney Hargis
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