Chris Christie Explains Why He Won’t Answer Questions: ‘You’ll Have This Tape And You’ll Use It’


For politicians seeking to get elected by majority vote, answering questions is a tricky business. There are almost always people on both sides of every issue, so taking a clear stance can often cost you votes. That’s why many politicians seek to maintain as much ambiguity as possible.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he’s quick to remind you, is a different kind of politician. He’ll tell you exactly where he stands and he’ll even sprinkle in a “damn” or a “hell” so you know he’s giving it to you straight.

The media has largely bought into this narrative. A search of the Nexis news database for his name near the word “blunt” returns over 1600 results.

In an interview on Wednesday on CNBC, Christie reminded viewers how he conducts business: “[O]wn up to what your positions are. Say what they are. If that’s not good enough to win, then you don’t want to govern under those circumstances anyway.”

He then proceeded to repeatedly dodge a series of direct questions posed by the interviewer, journalist John Harwood. Does he support closing the Export-Import Bank? “I don’t spend a lot of time focusing on the Export-Import Bank.” Does he think that people responsible for the financial collapse of 2008 should go to jail? “Things are a lot more nuanced than that.” Are the fines that banks are paying for their role in the collapse appropriate? “I won’t just sit here an opine on things.” Is Hillary Clinton a big government liberal? “I’m not going to get into talking about the Secretary.”

At one point, Christie felt compelled to explain to Harwood why he was avoiding many of his questions. He didn’t want to answer them, he said, unless and until he ran for President. He added that he thought it was “frankly immature to be expressing a lot of those opinions just because I’m sitting here…and you ask.” He told Harwood could “ask whatever you like” but “I don’t have to answer.”

He seemed particularly concerned that his answer would be “on tape” and could be used against him:

Earlier this month, Christie refused to say if he supported the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision: “Who knows?” He also won’t say if he supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants: “I don’t get to make those determinations.”

None of this seems to have impacted his public image, at least not yet. In a recent trip to Iowa, Republican voters describe him as “a blunt and charismatic teller of unpopular truths.”