New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is defending himself amid criticism for spending time over the Fourth of July weekend on the beach amid a state government shutdown that has many local beaches and parks closed to the public.
Photographs from NJ Advance Media showed Christie and his family spending the weekend on New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park, where a governor’s residence is located. However, the beach is one of several facilities currently closed to most visitors after Christie shut down New Jersey’s government Friday after the state legislature failed to pass a budget.
When asked about the photographs on Good Day Philadelphia, Christie defended his actions.
“I’m sorry they’re not the governor,” Christie said of the people who couldn’t access the beach. “This is a residence. Here’s the problem. We have a residence in Princeton as well and that place is a place where people can go and tour but they can’t if the government’s closed. Am I supposed to move out and stay in a hotel?”
Read Christie’s full exchange below.
Reporter: Governor Christie, welcome to Good Day Philadelphia.
Christie: Good morning, how are you guys?
Reporter: Feeling good, loving the fourth of July holiday. Are you calling us from that beach house?
Christie: Yes sir.
Reporter: I’m sure you’ve seen the Star Ledger, the newspaper. They had a helicopter over you yesterday, did you hear the chopper?
Christie: It wasn’t a helicopter, it was an airplane.
Reporter: It was an airplane?
Christie: Yeah. And yeah, this is an incredible scandal as you know because they actually caught a politician being where he said he was going to be with the people he said he was going to be with. Starting a week ago today, I told people we had plans to be here, and whether the government shut down or it didn’t, we were going to be here because it’s our residence. So they actually caught a politician keeping his word. Actually saying — being where he says he’s going to be and, oh my god what a scandal, he actually was with his wife and his children. And they caught him.
Reporter: But Governor, you can understand though why a lot of people are upset? They can’t go to that beach, they want to be able to do what you were doing and they can’t.
Christie: Well I’m sorry, they’re not the Governor. This is a residence. Here’s the problem. We have a residence in Princeton as well and that place is a place where people can go and tour but they can’t if the government’s closed. Am I supposed to move out and stay in a hotel?
Reporter: No, but Governor, you know the optics of this. You could have stayed—
Christie: This is the problem with politics today. This is the problem. When I tell you the substance of the problem, then you say, “well, you know the optics.” The fact is that the reason the park is closed is one simple reason. I didn’t close it. The legislature did not pass a budget to me for me to sign so that we would have the money to keep it open. That’s the simple fact of the matter. I told the legislature all week last week and I told them yesterday. Pass me any budget, I will sign any budget that you give me.
Later Monday, the Governor’s official Twitter account posted this:
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Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com