Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christie addresses casinos, the Boss at town hall

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gestures during the second day of the 5th annual Faith & Freedom Coalition´s "Road to Majority" Policy Conference in Washington in this file photo from June 20, 2014. New Jersey voters favor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over their own Governor Chris Christie in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, according to poll results released August 6, 2014.     (REUTERS/Larry Downing)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gestures during the second day of the 5th annual Faith & Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" Policy Conference in Washington in this file photo from June 20, 2014. New Jersey voters favor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over their own Governor Chris Christie in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, according to poll results released August 6, 2014. (REUTERS/Larry Downing) Reuters
LONG BRANCH, N.J. - Gov. Christie talked about Atlantic City casinos, cautioned against rushing to judgment in the shooting of a black teenager in Missouri, and defended his use of Bruce Springsteen music, Tuesday in the latest installment of his summer "No Pain, No Gain" town-hall meeting series.

Many previous events have featured protests by retirees and labor groups as well as Atlantic City casino workers urging Christie to do more to save their jobs following a series of announced closures.

But this time, Christie was met with just a single protester - a woman who objected to Christie's staff playing Springsteen music before his events.

Christie began the town hall by addressing the situation in Atlantic City, where three casinos are set to shut their doors in the coming weeks. Showboat is slated to close Aug. 31, Revel will close its hotel Sept. 1 and its casino Sept. 2, and the Trump Plaza is closing Sept. 16.

Christie, who is set to convene a summit with officials and stakeholders next month, said once again that he remained dedicated to the city and helping laid-off workers find new jobs.

"We can't look at this as a disaster. It's not a disaster," he said, pressing the need to transform the city into a full-service resort.

Asked about the protests in Ferguson, Mo., Christie said it was too soon to draw conclusions about the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer and the subsequent unrest there, and criticized other politicians who have weighed in.

Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was asked whether the protests in Ferguson gave him pause about militarization of police in New Jersey.

He cautioned against drawing conclusions or generalizations about the shooting of Michael Brown or what has happened in the days since until all the facts are known.

"None of us quite know yet exactly what happened in Ferguson," he said. "I've been urging people to not prejudge anything here."

Christie, a former prosecutor, said he always hated when politicians would weigh in on his cases, and criticized those who have in this case.

Politicians and public figures "who jump out now and start saying a lot of things, they're just trying to get their name in the newspaper," he said.

He also accused news anchors of making a "spectacle" out of the situation in Ferguson, where police officers in riot gear have lined the streets as violence erupts nightly.

Christie went on to praise the U.S. justice system as the best in the world, and said the overwhelming majority of police officers in the country are hardworking people who put their lives on the line every day.

He urged prayers for Brown's parents and said that as a parent, losing a child would be unthinkable, regardless of the circumstances.

"The sorrow and pain that these parents must feel right now is indescribable," he said.

At another point, a woman challenged Christie over his use of Springsteen's music at his events, suggesting that the Boss had asked him not to play it. Springsteen has criticized Christie's policies and appeared in a musical skit mocking the Republican after the George Washington Bridge scandal broke.

Christie, a professed Springsteen mega-fan, insisted the woman was mistaken. He said that he had seen Springsteen recently and that the rocker had said nothing to that effect.

"I know Bruce and I've spoken to Bruce, and you're wrong," he said.

The governor's staff eventually cut off the woman's microphone as she tried to engage him on another issue.

"If you want to debate me, run for governor," he said.

The woman spent most of the rest of the event holding up a sign that read "Indict" next to a drawing of handcuffs.

Jill Colvin Associated Press
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