New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has had many tough words for his political opponents over the course of his two years in office. The notoriously blunt Republican has called one state lawmaker “numbnuts,” another a “jerk” and criticized a law student and Iraq war veteran as an “idiot” after the student questioned one of his higher education proposals at a town hall meeting.
“He acted like an idiot. He's an idiot,” Christie said the day after the incident. “I don't have any regret about it at all.”
Whether Christie's tough-talking style is playing well with voters is another matter. According to a new poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey voters have had enough of their politicians using inflammatory language. The poll, released Tuesday (March 27), found that 87 percent of state residents want their elected officials to “lay off the name-calling.” At least three-quarters took exception with some of the tougher words their governor has used, including the now-famous epithets “jerk” and “numbnuts.”
“People really do want civility in political discourse,” Peter Woolley, the director of the poll, said in a statement. “The problem is that civility doesn't sell any advertising, and it doesn't necessarily energize voters. People want a spark.”
Christie offered more of that spark on the same day the poll was released. After a nonpartisan legislative agency called into question his revenue forecasts for the coming year, the governor derided the agency as a “tool” of Democrats, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. According to The Record of Bergen County, he also tore into a trio of Democratic state senators who suggested borrowing money for capital improvements at colleges and universities, likening them to “pigs at the trough.”
But New Jersey's sharp political rhetoric is not limited to Republicans. Democrats who control the state legislature have fired off plenty of their own verbal shots at Christie, with Stephen Sweeney, the Senate president, lashing out at him last year as a “bully and a punk” and declaring, “I want to punch him in his head.”