By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) made a rare joint appearance at Birmingham’s Southern Research Institute (SRI) with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R). The two Governors toured the laboratories and met with SRI executives. Following the tour, the two GOP Governors spoke to reporters in SRI’s courtyard. The Alabama Political Reporter was there to cover all of the event.
Governor Christie said, “Robert and I have developed a great relationship over the years.” Christie said that other states should look at how Gov. Bentley has handled the fiscal crisis as a model. Christie said that Bentley has reduced the size of state government by 12%. There needs to be a national spotlight on the things that Gov. Bentley has done here. His Accelerate Alabama program should be adopted by every state.
Gov. Bentley said of Christie, “He would make a great president.” Bentley said that while Christie communicates effectively, understands the issues, and has good leadership abilities his most important trait is that “He cares about the people.”
Gov. Christie is the head of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and he is working to help Republican Governors like Bentley to win re-election. Christie said, “Across the country our governors are in extremely good shape.”
Christie said that Democrat Governors on the other hand are playing defense and he predicted that the Republicans will pick up some governorships in blue states.
Gov. Christie said his job as head of the RGA is made easier by, “Great folks like Robert that are going to help carry the flag.”
A dramatically leaner, trimmer Christie sounded very much like a Republican Presidential candidate. Gov. Christie said he understands that because he is a, “Blue state governor people believe you are not going to be conservative.” Christie said that he was the first Pro-Life governor since the Roe versus Wade decision. Christie said in New Jersey he cut taxes, cut the number of income tax brackets, and cut state government while fighting with a Democratic state legislature. Christie predicted that as the people of Alabama get to know him they will know more about him.
Christie defended his decision to expand Medicaid in New Jersey because New Jersey already had the second most expansive Medicaid Program in the country and that expanding Medicaid actually decreased Medicaid spending in New Jersey by moving some of the old beneficiaries to the new Medicaid expansion. Gov. Christie said that he vetoed legislation to expand Medicaid twice and expanded Medicaid by executive order so if President Obama does not honor his promises on the expansion it would be easier to undo the expansion.
Christie said that the expansion is not a positive revenue move for New Jersey he will end it. Christie said that that was the best decision for New Jersey. In Alabama not taking the Medicaid Expansion was the best decision and Christie said that he supported Bentley’s decision not to expand Medicaid in Alabama. “Republican Governors are not doctrinaire.”
A reporter asked Bentley what he thought of comments by Jesse Jackson Sr. (D) that Bentley was the Governor standing in the hospital door on his decision not to expand Alabama Medicaid.
Bentley said, “I thought it was offensive.” Bentley said that he was there at the University of Alabama as a student when then Governor George C. Wallace (D) stood in the school house door to protest Federally ordered desegregation of Alabama’s schools. Bentley said that we have come a long way since then. “I want to be the governor who represents all the people of Alabama I don’t care what their color is. Frankly I don’t care what political party they are whether they are Democrats or Republicans. I want to be the governor of all the people of this state.”
Gov. Christie also appeared with Gov. Bentley at a fundraiser for the Bentley re-election campaign and attended an event to raise money for the Republican Governor’s Association.