Christie Charges Ahead As Budget Issues Mount

NEW YORK (AP) -

A defiant Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday shrugged off a mounting budget crisis and blamed Democrats for economic problems in New Jersey that threaten to further taint his presidential ambitions.

“In my state, everything that I’ve had to do has been an issue of a compromise or battle with a Democratic legislature,” Christie charged during a Republican Governors Association news conference. “I often am jealous of my three colleagues up here who have Republican legislatures. They can actually have Republican policies implemented.”

The remarks represent a dramatic shift for Christie, who only six months ago delivered a triumphant re-election speech casting himself as a can-do, bipartisan leader driving a New Jersey comeback.

Christie’s political standing has plummeted since then — first because of a traffic scandal that has engulfed the first months of his second term. And this week, he was forced to address a gaping budget deficit that could exceed $3 billion over the next 13 months.

At stake is Christie’s fiscal conservative reputation, although one of the nation’s leading fiscal conservatives said he doesn’t blame the governor for the budget mess in a state long led by Democrats.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said: “If you’re on the Titanic and the whole thing’s going down, it’s a little rough to be mad at the one guy who is putting people in lifeboats.”