Although Republicans had asked Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to deliver their response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, he declined the offer, The Auditor/The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reported.
Christie confidant William Palatucci, the governor’s former law partner and a Republican strategist, told The Auditor that national Republican leaders “tried to see if there was some interest, and there wasn’t any.” He added that Christie,who served as New Jersey U.S. Attorney from 2002 to 2008, wants to focus on New Jersey. “The governor is in the midst of his legislative agenda,” Palatucci told the newspaper. “There’s no reason to try to get involved in federal issues.”
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will be delivering the Republican response.
The liberal Salon.com called Christie’s decision a political calculation. Salon wrote:
Giving the response to the State of the Union seems like a big honor, and “rising stars” are often chosen to do it, but it’s actually not a very good gig: There’s no real upside, and lots of potential pitfalls. The response is always either forgotten, or remembered for the wrong reasons. Plus Christie only likes yelling at people on camera when they’re in the same room as him — shouting “you’re the worst thing in the entire world ever, show me some respect” or whatever at an absent president would not be a good look.
In addition, Christie turned down an invitation to attend the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee, known as CPAC, in March.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak told the newspaper, “I can only tell you that the governor receives hundreds of speaking and appearance invitations every month, many of which are declined for a number of reasons,” adding, “As with our other declinations, I don’t see the need to explain it to The Star-Ledger.”
However, attending last week’s White House state dinner honoring President Hu Jintao of China did garner some national press for Christie.
The newspaper reported that before the jazz concert that followed the dinner, Christie and his wife, Mary Pat Christie, found major Democratic supporters Barbra Streisand and James Brolin sitting in their seats. White House staffers had to move the two celebrities.
An insider told the newspaper, “Now I know the world has really changed, when they’re moving Barbra Streisand and James Brolin out of seats that are reserved for Christie.”