Uploaded on Jul 28, 2010
Governor Chris Christie was interviewed by Matt Lauer on NBC's The Today Show, today July 28, 2010. (Transcript Below)
Matt Lauer: Alright Meredith thank you. With an economy on edge many states are facing many difficult choice. New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie is making waves for his no-nonsense approach to fixing his state's budget problems. Governor Christie it's good to have you here, good morning.
Governor Christie: Good morning, Matt.
Matt Lauer: So much for flying under the radar
Matt Lauer: You've been in office for about six months now?
Governor Christie: Yes sir.
Matt Lauer: And you're making headlines. Let me give you a sample of what they're saying and writing about you, okay. "The nation's most interesting governor," "governor wrecking ball", "a human bulldozer" and my personal favorite, "Chris Christie may look like Chris Farley, but in terms of conservative principles he's as sexy as Christie Brinkley." Are they all right?
Governor Christie: Uh, well I don't know about that last one. But you know listen, I think we're taking a very direct, blunt approach to the problems. We're treating the people of New Jersey like adults. And tell them the truth, we're in awful shape and we need to get it together.
Matt Lauer: That direct approach has included taking on, head on, some what are normally sacred, unions, teachers, cops. Any regrets about the cuts you made and suggested so far? Are you worried at all down the line, a year from now, two years from now they may come back to haunt the people of New Jersey?
Governor Christie: My regret is that we didn't deal with this much sooner and it's forced us to do this. And so all these cuts are tough Matt. And I, in a perfect world I wouldn't want to do them, but I'm not in a perfect world. I'm in a state where I have an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget with a balanced budget amendment. So, we had to do what we had to do.
Matt Lauer: And political correctness be damned, I want to show people an exchange. You took on the teachers union. You said to teachers in your state, look you might have to take a pay freeze for a year, you might have to pay for some of your own health benefits. And you got into a heated exchange at a town hall meeting. Take a look. (Clip)
Matt Lauer: It's basically, you knew the deal, take it or leave it. Any fear on your part about fallout? These are teachers and that's a tough group to take on. Any fear of fallout on your part?
Governor Christie: I don't think you can lead out of fear. I mean listen, the fact of the matter is that the teachers union in New Jersey has demanded 4% and 5% increases in a 0% inflation world. That they pay nothing, the majority of teachers in New Jersey, for family health benefits from the day they are hired to the day they die. The people being ravaged from the recession are being asked to provide shelter to people from the recession. We just can't have it. So I think that the politically correct approach doesn't work anymore. We have to talk directly about these problems and solve them.
Matt Lauer: Are you reacting in some ways governor to what has happened inside the Republican Party long known as the party of fiscal responsibility? It took on a slightly different reputation over the last dozen or so years. Did the party lose sight of its core responsibilities?
Governor Christie: Yeah, I think it did. And you know the reason I became a Republican when I was 18 years old and voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 was because he articulated the ideas of lower spending, smaller government, common sense regulation, lower taxes. And I feel over the last few years we've lost our way. We have to get back to those core things that I think that's what people in New Jersey, at least, want to hear.