Chris Christie might have expected that in his first appearance on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart would focus on commiserating about their shared love of Bruce Springsteen and their storm-battered home state. While there was some lighthearted banter about the Boss, Stewart quickly transitioned into highlighting the hypocritical nature of Chris Christie’s bromance with President Obama. Stewart reminded Christie that before Hurricane Sandy hit, he’d painted Obama as a man “clutching for the light switch of leadership.” “And then right after the storm was over, you were like, [Stewart uses a robotic voice] ‘This man is a leader.’” Stewart added, “Doesn’t that tell you something about the game?” “What it tells me is that people have different skill sets at different times,” said Christie. The audience cracked up and Stewart summed up his argument: “So he wasn’t a leader until you needed leadership.” Things only went downhill from there.
Stewart was also curious about how the president responded to Christie vetoing state legislation to set up an Obamacare-mandated healthcare exchange just hours before showing up at the White House to ask for billions in hurricane aid on Thursday. Christie said he thinks Obama understands that there are some issues they disagree on, “but we’ve got to work together.” If so, that would make the president just about the only person Christie hasn’t ticked off recently. Earlier a PPP poll showed that Christie is still unpopular among Republicans, and judging from Stewart’s reaction, Christie’s recent behavior hasn’t earned him any points on the left either.
Steven Bogden, a Republican strategist, told The Wall Street Journal that Christie didn’t really have a choice on whether or not to implement the exchange because it’s becoming “a sort of political acid test for the 2014 and 2016 election cycle.” Yet, Christie angered some in his party by being less bombastic than other Republican governors in his rejection of Obamacare, and saying that he might change his mind at some point in the future.
Christie reiterated that position on the Daily Show, saying he’s letting a federally run exchange be set up in New Jersey because he hasn’t received an adequate explanation of how much a state-run exchange would cost. “But when you need it for hurricane relief, they don’t come to you and say ‘but wait a minute. How exactly is this going to go? What is the money going to go for?’” said Stewart. Christie protested that the federal government is asking for specific figures on hurricane aid, but Stewart retorted, “not to the same extent that you’re asking for them from these exchanges.” Christie then teed up the ball for Stewart, saying, “The difference is that here, we have people in New Jersey that are in a crisis situation that could not be anticipated.” “Here’s my point and where I part ways with the Republican party in an enormous way,” Stewart answered. “If you have cancer, and you don’t have health insurance, that’s Hurricane Sandy.”
As Christie giddily told Stewart earlier in the show, his response to Sandy prompted Springsteen to give him a big hug and declare, “It’s official, we’re friends!” Apparently, the same doesn’t go for every Jersey boy.