New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie challenged Democratic views on income inequality and the size of government, even as he issued a plea for political unity on Tuesday as he was sworn in for a second term.
“I do not believe that New Jerseyans want a bigger, more expensive government that penalizes success and then gives the pittance left to a few in the name of income equity,” Christie said in his second inaugural speech. The sentiment took clear aim at Democrats’ recent emphasis on incoming inequality, most notably in neighboring New York City, where the issue fueled newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign last year.
“We should make sure that government pursues policies that believe in the effort, talent and optimism of New Jerseyans, not in the power of almighty government to fix any problem, real or imagined,” he said during the speech, which opened to a two-and-a-half minute standing ovation according to a CNN count.
Christie, who is trying to put behind him the high-profile traffic scandal that has hurt his 2016 presidential hopes, also called for bipartisanship and a break in the government gridlock that has plagued Washington, D.C.
“We have to be willing to play outside the red and blue boxes the media and pundits put us in,” he said. “We have to be willing to reach out to others who look or speak differently than us.”
Christie has been buffeted by revelations that aides closed lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge as apparent political punishment for a small-town mayor in north Jersey who didn’t endorse Christie’s reelection bid. Christie apologized for the flap and fired a top aide while denying any knowledge of the revenge plot.
Inaugural celebrations planned for Tuesday evening on Ellis Island were canceled earlier in the day because of weather concerns ahead of a snowstorm. The Inaugural Committee said it would donate the planned catered food to local food pantries.