A warm welcome for Christie in Sweeney's town

Gov. Christie pitched his budget plan at a gymnasium in the hometown of his political foe, State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester), and heard warm applause for his calls to cut pension and health benefits for public workers.

Sweeney also supports reducing benefits for firefighters, cops and teachers, but there are differences in the plans the two men have offered.

Christie noted that all legislators are up for reelection this year.

"Politicians have looked at all of you as the money tree," Christie said. "They go to to pick the money off and spend it to get themselves elected. I'm trying a different approach here. I'm telling you you can't spend this money. I'm telling you, enough is enough."

Notably, Christie did not mention Sweeney once in the context of the budget battle in Trenton. But he did blame Sweeney and former Gov. Corzine for what he described as failed leadership at the Delaware River Port Authority.

In response to a question, Christie said he was meeting with Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett this weekend to talk about the DRPA. Unlike Christie, the Pennsylvania governor is empowered to remove and replace board members.

Much of Christie's remarks dealt with education, and his desire to force teachers to pay more toward their benefits and pensions.

This soliloquy, after positively describing his experience in the public schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, drew a huge round of applause from the 500 or so people in the crowd:

"How many other potential future governors are sitting in classrooms in Newark and Jersey City and Paterson and Trenton and Camden, and will never be governor, not because they don't have the God-given gifts inside of them and are capable of it, but because we were too cowardice, because we were too afraid to take on these $130 million teacher unions...that have done nothing but stand and obstruct progress in the state and protect the status quo."