DENVER — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie barreled past a small group of protestors and into Sam’s No. 3 Wednesday afternoon, saying hello to midday diners and posing for photographs before making his way to a back room and holding forth before a bevy of television cameras and reporters.
There, during a 15-minute exchange, Christie said the Republican Governors Association is planning to strongly support Bob Beauprez, the GOP nominee in Colorado’s upcoming governor’s race while proudly doubling down on the comments he made three months ago criticizing the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana and its quality of life.
“I’m not backing off an inch from what I said,” Christie told reporters. “What I said was what I believe. I think legalizing marijuana is the wrong thing to do.”
During a radio interview in late April, Christie responded to a caller inquiring about New Jersey possibly legalizing marijuana with a tirade.
“Go to Colorado and see if you want to live there,” Christie told the listener. “See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado where there’s head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high. To me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that.”
Asked about his comments comparing Colorado’s “quality of life” to New Jersey’s — lampooned by his hometown newspaper — Christie said he didn’t want to draw any further conclusions about Colorado’s quality of life having only been on the ground here for two hours at that point.
The chairman of the RGA did promise that he’d be back repeatedly over the next few months in an effort to boost Beauprez, who won a four-way gubernatorial primary in June and is now in a statistical tie with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, according to two polls released within the last week.
“We don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie said. “If I show up somewhere, that means I believe the race is winnable. I don’t waste my time or waste our money just making somebody happy.”
During a private fundraiser at the Capital Grille a few blocks away, Christie reportedly told donors that the RGA was very committed to backing up Beauprez.
Christie was diplomatic when asked about Hickenlooper.
“I like John a lot,” he said, having just appeared with Hickenlooper in Nashville at a meeting of the National Governors Association, which Hickenlooper is now chairman of. “I’m not going to come here and say he’s a bad person. I don’t think he is. I just don’t think he’s been a very good governor and I think Bob Beauprez would be a better one.”
Beauprez thanked Christie for coming to Colorado; and, speaking after Christie went more than 10 minutes without mentioning the Bridge-gate scandal in New Jersey that many think lowered the governor’s chances of winning the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016, brought up the subject himself.
After being asked about the progressive protestors holding signs outside, one of which including a drawing of a bridge with the words “Christie, Go Home”, Beauprez said, “Here’s what this governor did: when the bridge thing happened, this governor said here’s my cell phone, here’s my record, held an employee accountable, sent them packing, took responsibility and took action.
“Now I’ll contrast that to a lack of transparency from John Hickenlooper. When U.S. 36 happened, the first thing from this governor was, ‘We’re not going to show you.'”