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Christie Declares He’s Moving Past Scandal ‘Disappointment,’ Resumes 2016 Push

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 11: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a Economic Club of Chicago luncheon moderated by Greg Brown, Chairman & CEO of Motorola Solutions on February 11, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Christie is in Chicago to help raise money for the Republican Governors Association that he chairs (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photo: Scott Olson/2014 Getty Images

A deeply saddened Chris Christie has been doing some “soul-searching” since the George Washington Bridge lane closures became a bona fide scandal last month, but during a trip to Chicago to raise money for the Republican Governors Association, he seemed back to his old self. As protesters in Fort Lee called for his resignation on Tuesday, the governor offered his advice for ending the gridlock in Washington and lashed out at Democrats during a question-and-answer session hosted by the Economic Club of Chicago. Christie even framed the turnaround as a sign of his superior leadership abilities. “You only have a few minutes to wallow in that disappointment and then if you are a leader you have to try and get a handle on the story and take decisive action,” he said.

Host Greg Brown, CEO of Motorola solutions, only asked one question about Bridgegate, and Christie used it as an opportunity to make a self-deprecating quip. “Actually, I’m shocked you brought that up,” he said. “Large organizations are dynamic and incredibly creative because they’re inhabited by human beings,” Christie added. “They’re also incredibly flawed because they’re inhabited by human beings. So some people that worked for me made incredible mistakes in judgment.”

Christie was more combative than he’s been in some time. In addition to his usual complaints that Washington is no longer “civilized” and President Obama didn’t show “a respect for the other party” when he entered office, the governor attacked Democrats pushing their party to address income inequality, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Elizabeth Warren. “You want income equality? That is mediocrity,” he said. “Everybody can have an equal, mediocre salary.”

The governor had a message for Republicans too:

The successful presidential campaigns of both Mr. Bush and Bill Clinton, Mr. Christie said, required displeased skeptics within their own parties to “suck it up and get behind” them.

The party, Mr. Christie appeared to argue implicitly, should do the same when it comes to him. “Parties tend to become pragmatic when they are powerless,” he said. “It’s time for us to get pragmatic.”

Mr. Clinton, he said to knowing laughs, “was far from the perfect candidate.”

Though, that account comes from the New York Times, so who knows if it’s true? On Tuesday evening Christie’s staffers sent a third email attacking the paper to members of the press, claiming reporter Kate Zernike “uttered no fewer than five misleading statements” in an interview with Morning Joe. It’s unclear if Christie knows about the email, or if this is just the latest act of misguided loyalty from his staffers.

Christie Moves Past Scandal, Resumes 2016 Push