“What’s it like to be governor?” “What kind of work do you do?” “What’s your favorite sport?”
Two weeks after the epic news conference in which he announced the dismissals of a top aide and close political adviser implicated in a scandal over George Washington Bridge gridlock, Gov. Christie fielded a series of very different questions Thursday from a group of grade school students in Camden.
Standing in the center of the cafeteria at the Dudley Family School, walking a microphone from student to student, the Republican governor – who was visiting Camden to promote a new after-school dinner program – took questions about how much he worked (10-12 hours a day, “sometimes more”), his favorite movie (The Godfather, but “you’re a little too young … Wait until you’re seventeen, my man. Lots of life lessons in there”), and his favorite fifth-grade class ("Social studies was my favorite subject in the fifth grade. Absolutely”).
He seemed subdued, though he became more animated when a boy asked where he was born. “Darn right I was born in New Jersey,” Christie said. One girl, apparently pleased, clapped a few times.
Not all the questions were softballs. “Why is the state taking over Camden? The schools?” Christie said, repeating one boy’s question. Last March, the governor announced that he was putting the Camden School District under state control. “We’re not taking it over, really, we’re working in partnership with everybody here …. The good news is here in Camden we’re all working together.”
At one point, a child asked Christie a question that seemed to strike – innocently – at the controversy of recent weeks.
“How do I keep everything controlled? Not so well sometimes,” Christie said. “It depends on the day, man. It depends on the day.
“Here’s what you gotta learn: You can try to control everything, but you can’t. Sometimes things get out of control. And what matters is how you fix it when it gets out of control.”
After finishing up with the kids, Christie held a press event touting the dinner program and his commitment to improving education in Camden, taking no questions from reporters.