New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
(USA TODAY) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took responsibility again Tuesday for
the scandal over politically motivated traffic jams, as he sought to use
his State of the State Address to refocus attention on his policy goals
for a second term.
As he acknowledged "mistakes were
clearly made," Christie vowed to "cooperate with all appropriate
inquiries to ensure this breach of trust does not happen again."
Republican's reference to the revenge-motivated lane closures on the
busy George Washington Bridge and the controversy that threatens his
political future opened a speech outlining his plans for education,
property tax relief and other priorities.
"The last week has
certainly tested this administration," Christie said. "Mistakes were
clearly made. And as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted
to serve. I know our citizens deserve better - much better."
said he wanted to assure New Jersey residents that the scandal known as
Bridgegate "does not define us or our state" nor will it get in the way
of progress. "I am the leader of this state and its people and I stand
here today proud to be both," he said, as he promised to "do better."
has been out of sight since last Thursday, when he apologized
repeatedly for his administration's role in the traffic jams last fall.
He also fired a top aide and cut ties to a political ally, then visited
the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee to express his regrets in person.
governor's State of the State Address - normally a chance to outline a
new agenda and brag about accomplishments of the past year - was
Christie's first opportunity to change the current conversation that
he's a vindictive political bully.
Still to come: Christie's inaugural address on
Jan. 21 when the Republican is sworn in for a second term and his
presentation Feb. 25 of a new budget to the Democratic-controlled
Legislature. Can the governor stop the steady drip of scandal-tinged
"The larger political problem for Christie is
one of escalation," says Benjamin Dworkin, director of the Rebovich
Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University. "He's gone from
being called a bully, which most voters didn't seem to mind, to
accusations of abuse of power, which may have a much more lasting
"So while Christie used to be seen as the
schoolyard thug, a big kid picking on smaller kids, now he's portrayed
as a vicious teacher, singling out a child for torment," Dworkin says.
"It's not just bullying. It's abuse of power, and it is a whole new
narrative that he has to combat."
Christie's speech included new
education policy proposals, an area the governor focused on in his first
term. Having already battled teacher's unions over tenure rules and
merit pay, Christie proposed a longer school day and school year.
also called on New Jersey residents to create "an attitude of choice"
as they work together to build on his first-term achievements. Christie
touted his record of pushing through four balanced budgets, an overhaul
of the state's pension rules and a cap on property taxes.
not about choosing everything; it is not about saying yes to everyone,"
Christie said. "It is about setting our priorities and choosing to
invest in New Jersey where it matters and to put in place the reforms
and reductions that make it possible."
Since Christie's nearly two-hour news conference last week, investigations into his administration have widened:
The state Assembly will convene a special panel with subpoena power to
investigate the lane closures, which tied up traffic for days on the
Fort Lee end of the bridge. More than 2,000 pages of documents
suggesting politics was behind the traffic jams were released. These
documents also show that Christie's top aides tried to thwart reporters
who inquired about the lane closures.
promoting tourism in New Jersey in the wake of Superstorm Sandy,
featuring Christie and his family, are the subject of a separate
investigation by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. The
ads, paid for with disaster funds, appeared on TV in the run-up to the
November election, when Christie easily won a new term.
Christie's standing in New Jersey has taken a hit since copies of
e-mails between Christie aides and appointees became public last week.
About half of New Jersey's adults think Christie knew his staff was
involved in the scandal known as Bridgegate, according to a Monmouth
University/Asbury Park Press poll released Monday. And 51% say
they don't think Christie has been "completely honest" about what he
knows about the lane closures, the poll found.
You may also like...
Weird Florida: A look back at some of the strangest stories of the year
Miracle Baby: Tampa toddler has 5-organ transplant
Broke Bad: Contest winner busted in synthetic drug ring
Here kitty, kitty: Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary
Fake Cop: Man arrested 3 times for impersonating officer
Animal tragedy: Girl's miniature horse attacked by dogs
#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here