U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, seized the opportunity Saturday to bash Republican Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Scott of Florida.
Appearing at a news conference at the Dania Beach tri-rail commuter rail station, Wasserman Schultz and other Democrats used the first day of a weekend visit to Florida by the Jersey governor to criticize him and Scott, a beneficiary of Christie’s fundraising events.
With the Republicans keeping Christie and Scott under wraps, with no public events and nothing open to news coverage, Wasserman Schultz attracted a large media crowd: a couple of dozen reporters and TV camera operators. Seven TV cameras recorded her comments.
“It’s great to be here to welcome Chris Christie to the Sunshine State. It’s not every day that we have a governor visit Florida whose scandals burn so brightly they outshine even those of our own scandal plagued governor, Rick Scott
“Governor Christie and Governor Scott really do have a lot in common. They both seem to have a loose definition of ethics and of knowing what’s right and what’s wrong. And they both know a thing or two about creating massive traffic problems for their constituents.”
That jab was aimed at Christie for the Bridgegate scandal, which involved four days of snarled traffic after Christie lieutenants ordered the closure of approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge, apparently to retaliate against a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse the Republican governor’s bid for re-election. And it was aimed at Scott’s decision, early in his term, to reject federal money to help build a high-speed rail line in Florida.
“Both governors have clearly decided to put politics ahead of what’s best for their constituents. Thanks to these two governors, both states are far too familiar with gridlock,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“It’s interesting that while Chris Christie is spending the entire weekend in Florida with Governor Scott, they won’t have a single public appearance. Either Chris Christie doesn’t want to face the press or Governor Scott doesn’t want to be seen publicly with Chris Christie, who is an embattled governor, and I think it’s probably a little bit of both,” she said.
Wasserman Schultz said she’s concluded that “Chris Christie has a culture of intimidation and retribution in his office. It was directed at his own constituents….”
“Republicans like to brag and say that their governors are the future leaders of their party, that they’re the ones who know how to get things done, that they’re different from the dysfunctional Republicans that I work with in Washington.
“Well Republican governors elected Chris Christie as their chairman. And in recent weeks’ we’ve seen exactly how he gets the job done: through intimidation and retaliation. What we’ve seen with the bridge scandal is a look behind the curtain of exactly how Christie’s office operates behind the scenes. That’s the model that Republican governors have elevated and want to emulate. But it’s not what’s best for Floridians or the American people.
“Clearly Rick Scott has no problem with it. But I guess that shouldn’t surprise us because as the expression goes ‘birds of a feather flock together.’”
Wasserman Schultz repeatedly said both Scott and Christie are mired in scandal, though she didn’t provide specifics about the alleged scandals supposedly engulfing Scott.
“There’s nothing wrong with fundraising. But Chris Christie decided to come to Florida, to campaign with our governor. They are both mired in scandal. Repeatedly in the case of our governor…
“It’s a little bizarre that Rick Scott would bring the chair of the Republican Governors Association -- something that arguably he should be proud of in a normal situation -- and not brag about it, not show him off, not spend some time in front of the cameras and take some photo-ops and answer some questions. Well there’s a reason for that: It’s probably both that Rick Scott doesn’t want to be seen standing next to Chris Christie and Chris Christie doesn’t want to be answering any uncomfortable questions.”
Does she believe Christie is telling the truth?
“I believe that there have been more questions raised than there have been answers … it is hard for me to understand how Chris Christie could not have known that his most senior staff was engaging in the conduct that they engaged in without his knowledge …”
Is Christie lying?
“There is a pretty big truth deficit when it comes to this issue and the questions that Chris Christie has answered and not answered… “
Should Christie resign as New Jersey governor?
“No. I think the investigations should continue. We’ll see what other things are revealed. But I think the bottom line that’s becoming very clear is you know whenever you are someone who like Chris Christie did during that two hour press conference has to say I am not a bully, then you know you’re probably a bully. And that’s why a number of things have come to light.”
Mitch Ceasar, chairman of the Broward Democratic Party and a member of the Democratic National Committee’s executive board, joined in the Christie criticism.
“It is cold in the northeast. It’s January. And you want to come to Florida. I also understand that Governor Christie has now arrived with more political baggage than any snowbird would have for the entire season.
“It is very clear that Governor Christie and Governor Scott have a lot in common … both seem to enjoy lawyering up….”
“Governor Gridlock and Governor 1 Percent together to teach each other new tricks. Well, that’s not good for New Jersey, and it’s certainly not good for Florida. And the two of them together learning new tricks is certainly not good for America.”
Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, a candidate for state representative, aimed her criticism at Scott who she said has subjected Florida to “scandal plagued rulership of this state.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun