The Republican governor took questions on rebuilding efforts after
Superstorm Sandy, reforming the state's family court system, and
even beautifying its highway turning lanes known as jug handles.
Christie has experienced a drop in political support since it was
revealed last month that some of his aides and allies apparently had
a hand in orchestrating traffic jams at the busy George Washington
Bridge in political retaliation aimed at a local Democratic mayor
who had not endorsed the governor's re-election bid.
In the latest bit of bad news for Christie, a Quinnipiac University
poll released on Thursday showed him down 13 points from November in
a hypothetical matchup in Ohio with Democratic former Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton.
"The George Washington Bridge is not in Ohio, but voters there seem
very aware of its traffic problems — and New Jersey Gov. Chris
Christie's traffic problems," said Peter Brown, assistant director
of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement
accompanying the poll results.
The two had been essentially tied, Clinton with 42 percent and
Christie with 41 percent, before the scandal broke in early January,
"Today, she enjoys a comfortable double-digit lead and voters say
Christie would not be a good president," he said.
Also on Thursday, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson
ordered two of Christie's former top staff to appear in court on
March 11 and explain why she should not force them to comply with
subpoenas issued by lawmakers investigating the lane closures.
Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill
Stepien, his former campaign manager, have refused to comply with
requests for documents, correspondence and other records since the
subpoenas were issued last month.
At the town hall meeting in Middletown, New Jersey, Christie, who
has a reputation for being blunt and at times impatient, seemed
He laid blame for delays in storm recovery funding on the federal
government, saying: "We're stuck dealing with a federal system
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Christie himself has been accused of playing politics with Sandy
aid. Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, has said his
administration linked release of relief funds to approval of a local
development project. Zimmer has since met with federal prosecutors
looking into her claims.
Making no mention of that controversy, Christie noted at the meeting
that he worked well with New Jersey's mayors and cited Matt Doherty
of Belmar, on the Atlantic shore, as an example.
"We continue to work with all the mayors in a way that is incredibly
cooperative and non-partisan," Christie said. "I'm a Republican.
Doherty is a Democrat. That hasn't mattered one whiff.
"He's given me praise when he thinks I deserve it and given me
criticism when he thinks I deserve it," he said.
One audience member suggested that Christie, known to be a Bruce
Springsteen fan, burn the New Jersey rock star's CDs.
Springsteen recently appeared on television in a musical parody of
the bridge scandal with late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon.
Christie responded that he was under no illusion that he and
Springsteen were "simpatico" on the issues.
"I still live in hope that someday he'll wake up and say, 'He's
alright. We can be friends,'" Christie said. "I live in hope of
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson)
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