New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was in Indianapolis last week to help raise money for Mike Pence’s efforts to become Indiana’s 50th governor. Chris has numerous ties to Indiana, with many Hoosier friends. Earlier this year, he was urged to represent the Republican Party as a presidential candidate. Chris declined, claiming that he is not yet ready to serve on that level. His candor is a refreshing respite from the swamp of self-inflation we have come to expect from politicians.
At the fundraiser last week, Chris spoke of his humble upbringing. His father was an ice cream factory worker who put himself through college over a six-year period. His mother did not have the opportunity to attend college, but pounded the importance of education into her children.
I had a chance to speak privately with Chris for a few minutes. We exchanged pleasantries about our mutual acquaintances and talked about his trademark candor. I told him how much I admire his candidness. Having followed politics for five decades, I have witnessed many forthright candidates whose “tell it as it is” quality either raised them high in the system, or led to their being run out by voters. Chris agreed with my analysis and said that, so far, his style seems to be working for him.
Larger-than-life in size and stature, Chris is amiable, warm, passionate and compassionate. Without a hint of self-importance, he comes across as a man who just wants to do a good job … and right now, his job is serving as governor of New Jersey. Chris admits that he has borrowed many ideas from a fellow candid politician — our own Mitch Daniels. For example, when Chris took office a little more than two years ago, New Jersey faced a budget deficiency of $11 billion on a total budget of $29 billion. A gaping hole, but Chris is closing it by cutting expenditures, not by raising taxes.
It was an honor to meet Gov. Christie. Unpretentious and easygoing, he upholds the defining traits of candor: “Frankness of expression; sincerity.” I sincerely do hope that I have the chance to meet with him again one day.