Is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono using Gov. Christie's weight against him?
So says the governor, in response to the end of the below video, in which Buono, a state senator from Middlesex County, criticizes Christie for spending federal tax dollars on the Stronger Than The Storm ad campaign to bring visitors back to the post-Sandy Jersey Shore. The Christie administration hired an advertising agency that cost $2 million more than the low bidder -- and Buono said that's only because that company put Christie and his family in the ads.
Here's Buono: "I don't know about you, but seeing Chris Christie frolicking on the beach is not going to drive me to go to the Jersey Shore."
Buono chuckled, and the line got a laugh from the Buono supporters.
Christie, whose weight has long been an personal and political issue for him, was asked about the comment at a news conference today. "For me and for other folks across New Jersey, many folks who are challenged by their weight, the fact that someone running for governor would make derisive comments about someone’s physical appearance I think is really beneath the office that she’s seeking and I’m disappointed that she’s done it," he said.
He compared Buono's statement to former Gov. Jon Corzine's infamous ad from the 2009 campaign against Christie, in which a camera focused on Christie's belly while the narrator talked about him "throwing his weight around." Christie noted that when MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked Buono some months about that ad, she refused to denounce it.
"I think that it’s unfortunate that Senator Buono has decided to go down the same path as Gov. Corzine did in making comments derisively about my physical appearance," Christie said.
I asked Buono about her comment today at a news conference in New Brunswick. This is what she said: "I'm not going to even dignify that with a response."
She then went on to again criticize the ad campaign.
"This governor is on the defensive, as he should be, about spending $2 million more than he needs to when the only difference is he appears on the commercial in the beach. i think that's inappropriate. The businesses down the Shore are suffering. If he was really intent on drawing people down the Shore instead of having it be all about his ego, starring himself in the commercial, then he should have highlighted the businesses that are open, telling people, yeah we're open, come down to the Shore, we're ready willing and able to serve you."
Her campaign then released this statement: "Gov. Christie seems to think that everything is about him. First, he defended his starring role in a federally funded ad campaign as absolutely essential to storm recovery. Now, as businesses question the effectiveness of the campaign, he says that anyone who dares to question him is somehow attacking his weight. It's time for the Governor to toughen up and face the facts: his bluster and self-promotion have left business owners and residents across the state with one of the worst economies in the nation."
So, legitimate criticism from the gov? Did Buono go too far?