5 Ways Candidate Christie Is Going Conservative

Matt Katz | July 6, 2015 | Katz on Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is now a Republican candidate for president — and that has led him to stake out new conservative positions as he seeks support from the GOP base. Unlike other candidates, he’s a sitting governor of a state that happens to give its chief executive extraordinary constitutional powers, potentially making New Jersey a laboratory. He can actually enact conservative policies while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, for example, can just talk about them. No wonder, then, that Christie has no plans to resign his position. See where he stands on these five key issues:

1) Guns:  Christie once said he supported New Jersey’s strict gun control laws. But on Monday, the night before he announced his candidacy, Christie issued a regulatory change that fast-tracks gun applications for victims of domestic abuse. At the same time, he did not take action on a bill on his desk that would have kept guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Christie also issued an executive order that created a commission to study whether New Jersey’s gun laws were unconstitutional. Campaigning the next day in New Hampshire, he boasted about these moves, and in an interview there with Fox News he described some gun control proposals in New Jersey as “crazy.”

2) Abortion: Also on the eve of his announcement, Christie vetoed, as he has every year, $7.5 million for women’s health services at clinics like Planned Parenthood. In his veto message Christie cited budgetary reasons, saying these services were provided by other health facilities. But that’s not what he told Sean Hannity of Fox News in an interview on Tuesday night. He said the veto was evidence that he was a principled, pro-life governor.

3) National Defense: Christie has become as hawkish as anyone in the Republican field. In recent days he has called for warplanes over the South China Sea to send a message to the Chinese and regular American troop movements in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to send a message to Vladimir Putin. He wants missiles in Poland and a fence on part of the Mexican border. He called for increasing the naval fleet and retaliating against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for crossing President Obama’s “red line” on the use of chemical weapons. 

4) Tax Cuts: Christie can now say he cut income taxes in New Jersey. Unable to get an income tax cut through the Democratic legislature, Christie last month proposed boosting funding for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which was created by President Ronald Reagan to lower taxes for the working poor. In 2010 Christie effectively raised taxes on this same group by slashing the credit from 25 percent of what the federal government provides to 20 percent. The new plan raises the credit to 30 percent, which is essentially a tax cut. This was a position that Democrats endorsed, but its immediate benefit was for Christie to be able to boast on the campaign trail about cutting income taxes.

5) Common Core: Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Common Core education standards, which conservatives loathe, even though a group that he had formed to study the standards won’t issue its findings until July 31.