In a Statehouse press conference today, he expanded on the statement: “The political climate in the South didn’t give them the option to have a referendum back then,” he said, adding later: “They wished they would have had the option, but the political climate did not permit it, meaning they would not win.”His tact in dealing with controversies and politics isn't to apologize but to double down. The fact is that an apology for his insensitive comments would have been more than enough to make the issue go away. But like most things Christie does these days, one eye is on politics and his stature within the GOP as much as it is about getting the job done.
Christie signaled out Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), one of two openly gay state lawmakers, as "numbnuts" for comparing him to infamous segregationalists.
“Govs. Lester Maddox and George Wallace would have found allies in Chris Christie over efforts by the Justice Department to end segregation in the South,” Gusciora said Thursday in a statement.
Christie also likened Democrats’ reaction to his original statement to what he called politically motivated overreactions to his comment last year that the press should “take a bat out” on Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). “It just shows how politically desperate the Democrats are,” he said.
This afternoon civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) is scheduled – along with U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) – for a press conference to discuss the original comments.
Holt in a phone interview today called Christie’s comment a “big blunder.”
Instead, this carries on and actually detracts from what ever policy agenda he's working on at the time (and curiously enough, he's actually nominated a gay judge to the state supreme court even as he's looking to avoid having to vote on a proposed gay marriage bill in the state). The comments opposing gay marriage are all about the politics and currying favor with the socons - and the end run to a referendum would allow the state to legalize gay marriage without him taking an affirmative action to do so.
To me, that's a shrewd political move, but one that puts the socons in fits since he is not nearly as conservative as they want (but then again, who is these days in no true conservative fashion). It would seem as though Christie has no problem with the gay marriage legislation, except that it would hurt his chances at running for president going forward. That's rather telling about both the state of the Republican party and Christie's politics.