N.J. Gov. Chris Christie Pushes Back After Being Spotted on Beach Closed by Government Shutdown
Chris Christie Visits Beach as Public Turned Away Amid Government Shutdown 0:39
“That’s where my family is sleeping, so that’s where I’ll sleep,” Christie said during the news conference Sunday. “When I have a choice between sleeping with my family or sleeping alone, I generally like to sleep where my family is.”
During the news conference, a tanner-looking Christie was asked whether he had gotten any sun, to which he responded that he hadn’t.
Later Sunday, when the photos surfaced, the governor’s spokesman, Brian Murray, reiterated that sentiment, saying Christie had not, in fact, gotten any sun — because he was wearing a hat while on the beach.
The photos show that Christie was, indeed, wearing a hat.
Murray later said on MSNBC that he was being a “smart aleck” when he made the hat comment and that Christie was on the beach for only 45 minutes before heading back to Trenton.
“They didn’t ask, ‘Are you on the beach?’ They asked, ‘Did you get some sun?'” Murray told MSNBC’s Katy Tur. “So no, he didn’t.”
He added that the part of the beach Christie was photographed on is part of the governor’s residence and is closed to the public year-round.
In the shots of the governor enjoying the beach, taken by NJ Advanced Media photojournalist Andrew Mills, Christie is seen with his toes in the sand, lounging back in a beach chair with his wife, Mary Pat.
“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 is closed. Am I supposed to move out and stay in a hotel?” Christie asked Monday during a phone interview with WTXF-TV of Philadelphia.
Mills said the newspaper originally planned to book a plane to photograph reveling beachgoers baking in the sun and enjoying a weekend off along the Jersey Shore in juxtaposition with empty stretches of beach.
Once at the airport, Mills spotted the governor’s helicopter and knew that Christie was in the area, he said in a Star-Ledger article.
He decided to try the state residence where Christie could be staying, and in a moment of unparalleled luck, he spotted the governor and his family and took the shot.
“I really wonder about journalists who spend money flying planes to look for people where they actually said they’d be,” Christie told WNYW-TV of New York.
Christie defended his use of the beach house, saying: “That’s the way it goes. Run for governor, and you can have the residence.”
The governor reiterated the sentiment to WTXF, telling those critical of his use of the closed beach: “Well, I’m sorry. They’re not the governor.”
On Monday morning, Christie tweeted out a photo of a New Jersey beach and noted that a large percentage of the state’s beaches were still open and could be enjoyed by the public.
“NJ beaches are open in 119 of our our [sic] 130 miles of coastline. Come and enjoy them — but use sunscreen and hydrate!” Christie tweeted.
NJ beaches are open in 119 of our our 130 miles of coastline. Come and enjoy them–but use sunscreen and hydrate! pic.twitter.com/7LeCYcjZqm
Another beautiful day at the Jersey shore. Our beaches are open & full of people. Come & see for yourself! And you can hit the boardwalk! pic.twitter.com/Y55URA0mdg
Christie later tweeted again, saying, “Another beautiful day at the Jersey shore. Our beaches are open full of people. Come see for yourself! And you can hit the boardwalk!”
Ironically, the images accompanying Christie’s tweets were taken by Mills on the same flight during which he snapped the picture of the governor on the closed beach. Christie did not attribute the images to Mills, but they appear as images 18 and 22 in a gallery on NJ.com.
The shutdown hinged on the state’s budget and legislation to overhaul the state’s biggest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. Christie blamed the shutdown on Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who was blocking a vote on a bill to restructure Horizon because he believes it is a bad policy, according to NJ.com.
The bill has bipartisan support and was approved by the Senate.