Governor Chris Christie has been part governor and part campaigner for many observers during most of his time as governor of New Jersey. During his three years in office, he has traveled the country for the midterm elections in 2010, traveled the state for the state’s full slate of elections in 2011, and was back at it nationally in full swing in 2012 for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. He even found himself being the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention this past August.
His travels are generally saluted by Republicans while Democrats criticize his lack of focus on the state and its own issues most notably the highest state unemployment rate in 35 years. While he has gotten some flack and criticism for some of his travels, but hardly been grilled by being connected to certain candidates like what happened when he decided to campaign in Indiana. Indiana has a close U.S. Senate race and leading GOP figures like Christie are being used to boost the Republicans’ chances in those tight races.
Before going to Indiana, he would stop in Wisconsin to assist former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson’s campaign. Thompson is in one of those close Senate races. However, it would be a visit to Indiana for GOP senatorial nominee Richard Mourdock that has caused some conversations about Christie and his choice of candidates. Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite, unseated the long serving Senator Richard Lugar in the GOP primary earlier this year. Unlike in Wisconsin, Mourdock is trying to keep this open seat in GOP hands.
Campaigning for more conservative candidates might get Christie some comments directed his way, but Mourdock’s blunt opinions on rape and pregnancy got the GOP senatorial a lot of negative press and thus drug Christie down with him.
Christie looked fast to separate himself from the negative perceptions.
The words garnering Mourdock and his supporters such attention were:
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Mourdock, who was slightly favored in a Republican-leaning state to win, saw his numbers slip and the race got that much closer and his opponent; Joseph Donnelly; could pull off the comeback victory.
In reaction to Mourdock’s comments, Christie’s office would state;
“(Christie) completely rejects Richard Mourdock’s beliefs and views on this issue…”
Mourdock was quickly dragged down in his race like Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO2)’s campaign has taken big hits after his controversial rape related comments earlier this year. Christie had not campaigned for Akin and was able to distinguish himself from the Missouri congressman. However, it was a bit harder to reverse and erase his connection Mourdock.
Christie’s connection to Mourdock was not his first negative connection in the last couple months of this campaign cycle as he traveled to Iowa in September to support Congressman Steve King (R-IA5). King had made his controversial comments regarding young rape victims and not hearing about pregnancies occurring from those incidents.
Christie at the time weighed Akin’s comments as worse.
Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman would also voice,
“Mourdock’s comments damage all Republicans and especially Romney as the fight for the women’s vote intensifies. This could be a defining moment for Romney, and he should immediately denounce both Mourdock and the comment.”
While Senate President Stephen Sweeney would add,
“I’m sure the governor will give his stock answer about how he doesn’t agree with everyone in his party on everything, but these comments are so egregious that excuse will not fly.”
Besides just Sweeney; Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34), Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6) would pen the follow response:
“Dear Governor Christie:
Tuesday night, Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate in Indiana, made a disgusting, offensive, and reprehensible statement during a debate with his Democratic opponent. Responding to a question of whether abortion should be legal in cases of incest or rape, Mr. Mourdock said a pregnancy resulting from rape is “something God intended” and is “a gift from God.”
We were outraged to hear these offensive comments and alarmed by the attitudes behind them. Because you recently expended your time and effort campaigning for Mr. Murdock in Indiana we believe you have a responsibility to repudiate his remarks and to publicly withdraw your political support for his candidacy.
As legislators, we have spent our public lives fighting to protect women’s health and well being, including efforts to enhance protections for survivors of rape and sexual assault.
We have heard from rape survivors and their families across the state who describe the unspeakable and horrific trauma inflicted upon them at the hands of vicious criminals. We have heard the stories of women who have attempted to take their own lives because of the trauma they have endured. We have heard from women who learned they became pregnant with the child of their own rapist—women who then had to face awful, incredibly difficult and incredibly personal choices.
Mr. Mourdock’s statements are part of an increasingly disturbing trend by prominent Republicans across the country. We have seen similarly despicable remarks before from Todd Akin—yet another United States Senate candidate. We believe these kinds of statements are a disturbing reflection enabled by a national Republican Party that has rejected the idea that women should control their own health decisions in instances of rape—even writing such a position into its national platform. These comments and the ideas behind them devalue women and are an insult to human dignity.
They have no place in the public discourse and Mr. Mourdock himself has no place in public life. It is clear to us that Mr. Mourdock’s offensive statements make him especially unfit to serve in the United States Senate. Mr. Mourdock’s continuing candidacy, which you put your full effort into supporting recently, is an insult to rape survivors, women and families across this country.
That is why we call on you to join us in unequivocally and fully repudiating Mr. Mourdock—both his disgusting words and his candidacy for the United States Senate. This is the time that requires clear leadership from elected leaders of both parties, not carefully parsed responses that seek to save political face.
Given your national prominence in the Republican party and your past campaign efforts on Mr. Mourdock’s behalf, nothing short of your full and clear rejection of Mr. Mourdock’s statements and your call for Mr. Mourdock to drop out of the race will meet the standards of decency that are so important in America.”
Christie has been able to avoid lingering negative attention for his connections. Granted he did not commit the outrageous comments of Akin, King, and Mourdock; but if he is looking to run for president potentially in 2016 or 2020; his previous connections and endorsements could return.