New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said today the George Washington Bridge lane closures scandal will have no impact on his political future and blamed the media attention it has received on politics.
“As far as the impact on my political future, I think it will have none,” Christie said, when asked by CBS News’ Bob Schieffer about potential implications of the scandal known as “Bridgegate.” “Because I didn’t do anything. So listen, I understand the circus that this becomes. You get 61 percent of the vote in a blue state in November, and then, all of a sudden, a couple of staff people do something that they shouldn’t have done. I fire them and, all the sudden, this becomes the biggest story in the country for a couple months. ‘Cause I guess you guys weren’t doing anything else down here? So, this is what needed to be focused on, right?”
Speaking at a question-and-answer session at the Peterson Foundation’s 2014 Fiscal Summit in Washington, Christie said, “What the people of New Jersey know about me is I tell them the truth.” The controversy that has grabbed headlines for months will be a mere “footnote,” he added.
“I told them I had nothing to do with it and now you’ve had all kinds of people looking at this for nearly four and a half months now, and there hasn’t been one suggestion that I knew anything about it,” Christie said. “I’m not the first chief executive who had someone on their staff do something they didn’t know, something about that they disapproved of and later had to fire them. I don’t think that that hurt anybody’s career and it’s not going to hurt mine.”
Schieffer also asked Christie about New Jersey’s budget problems, which include a state budget shortfall of more than $800 million. Christie said there were “limited options.” He blamed the budget gap, which has even prompted some downgrades from credit rating agencies, on state economists.
“Now I have to fix it with 45 days left in my fiscal year,” he said, adding he will make a major budget announcement next week to try to fix the state’s fiscal problems without raising taxes, something he vowed not to do.
“We will fix it,” Christie told Schieffer. “You know why? I have no choice.”
The Democratic National Committee responded to Christie’s comments about the budget, something it has seized on in recent days.
“For all his bluster and claims of straight talk, the bottom line is that Chris Christie will deflect, blame and attack others on nearly every issue – from Bridgegate to his budget crisis – while failing to take responsibility for his miserable record,” DNC national press secretary Michael Czin said in a statement.
ABC’s Erin Dooley contributed to this report.