Recent Visit to Camden Means PR Stunt for Gov. Christie

Governor Chris Christie is known for brash, forthright demeanor and maverick decision-making when it comes to governing the State of New Jersey. It is for that reason that many will remain cautiously optimistic about his new plan for Camden city’s youth.

This past Monday, Governor Christie unveiled a new blueprint for children in Camden, which he claims exercises his support for the city.

According to the Courier-Post, this measure establishes a new formal state partnership with the Center for Family Services Camden Promise Program. Along with Paterson and Newark, Camden is now one of three cities with an official tie to the New Jersey Promise Communities Initiative

Governor Christie calls upon this plan to prepare Camden’s youth to excel in the classroom, including before and after school.  There are already 15 citywide organizations in Camden as apart of the Camden Promise Program, one of which includes Born to Read.

Christie initially announced his plan during a daylong visit to Camden city’s neighborhoods. On one hand, his presence in the city was important for shinning a spotlight on the positivity in Camden.

During his June 9th visit, the governor made his rounds throughout the city in locations such as the U.S. Wiggins Elementary School and a student roundtable lead by the Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy.

Christie later visited Pyne Point Park accompanied by Mayor Dana Redd and Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard. He shot some hoops – taking 12 tries to make one shot – had a catch (baseball) on the field with the Pyne Point Little League, parents and coaches.

The kids appeared elated to have the Governor of New Jersey to visit their city. When considering his years of exposure to the national media – sometimes for the wrong reasons – he projects a celebrity type aurora.

But Christie often sells himself as the average Joe. He managed to visit radio talk-show host Angelo Cataldi of WIP, 94.1 PM sports radio before his day started in Camden. As usual, he gushed over his love of the Cowboys. It also wouldn’t be fun until an Eagles fan would call to heckle the governor about this matter.

The issue is that we’ve seen this type of political touring before.  A public official will spend their day crusading around, treating their day very casually, shaking hands, kissing babies and participating with group photos.

Governor Christie seldom projects a sense of being altruistic. If there is any spotlight to be had, it’s usually when he’s trying to shine it on himself.

This makes his recent visit to Camden all the more awkward.

At one point, the governor maintained an approval rating over 50%. Before his approval rating dipped, Christie infamously decided to support regulation that dismantled Camden city’s police forces. He also supported tax breaks for company developers and the state takeover of public school institutions, while displaying a propensity to demonize teachers.

Now, he’s addressing his unwavering support for Camden’s youth, claiming “as a leader in government…it is our responsibility to provide every child in this state with the ability to reach their highest potential…no matter what the zip code.”

There have been times when the governor’s popularity tanked so badly that he has had to fight for his political life. The bridge gate scandal is a classic example.

In fairness, his politicking strategies should not undermine how he has sustained consistent visits to Camden in the past. As the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, the governor has conducted around 20 public events in Camden since taking office.

But besides the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it is rare for Governor Christie to show an ounce of sentimentalism.

This new plan is sure to garner interest in the city and throughout the State. In the end, it’s difficult to ignore whether his recent walk through Camden is the prototypical publicity tour.

Figuring out who the real Chris Christie is has been an interesting endeavor over the last several years. No matter how much people detest his policies, Christie’s tell it like it is attitude is still revered by many. It got him elected to office (twice), and despite the multiple controversies, it’s apart of why he’s avoiding political purgatory.

In the meantime, I wish that the real Chris Christie would please stand up.


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