New Jersey’s gubernatorial debate last week showed that Republican candidate Chris Christie could still be vulnerable on some key issues that Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine has used against him: Mandated coverage of women’s health by insurance companies, and a lack of details on the state budget.
Corzine himself is not very popular, owing to the state budget problems and the bad economy, but has been making headway in the polls by chipping away at Christie’s own favorables. And the debate may have been another one of those moments.
In a key moment, Chris Christie defended his advocacy of legalizing mandate-free insurance policies, which he says would be a cheaper option for people who don’t currently have insurance. The Corzine campaign has said this would mean insurance companies would be able to drop coverage for mammograms — which Christie has responded to by citing his own mother’s fight with breast cancer.
In the debate, Corzine stuck with the attack: “First of all, I want to say that I thank God that Mr. Christie’s mother had a mammogram. I hope that all women in New Jersey have mammograms.”
Christie shot back: “So let’s make it really clear. I would not have a plan that would ever prevent any women who needed a mammogram to get one. The governor knows it, and this is just another example of his shameful campaign.”
But Corzine stayed firm: “I’d rather stand with the women of New Jersey than I would with the insurance companies.”
Christie also took some knocks from both Corzine and independent Chris Daggett for criticizing Corzine on taxes and spending, but not having a full plan: “What we will do, Michael, is very simple. We will get down to Trenton and we will get into that budget and we will work cooperatively with the Legislature and we will make sure we bring the budget down and we will cut it significantly.”
Daggett responded with a line that has been quoted a lot in the New Jersey press: “It’s easy to criticize when you have no plan of your own,” he said. “I would like the tooth fairy to come as well, but the tooth fairy is not going to come.”
Paul Mulshine, the state’s most prominent conservative opinion columnist and a long-time Christie detractor, panned the candidate’s performance: “No, the tooth fairy won’t be coming, at least not for Chris Christie if he keeps this up. The man who keeps yammering on about the need to make ‘tough choices’ spent the evening attacking every tough choice that Daggett proposed, while dodging every question that came his way.”