Christie joins Essex County Democrats on walk through Newark's Ironbound section

NEWARK — Gov. Chris Christie took his re-election campaign to the steamy streets of New Jersey's largest city today — and touted a message of bipartisanship alongside two of the area's top Democrats.

The Republican governor walked through Newark's multicultural, working-class Ironbound section this morning, shaking hands, posing for pictures and signing autographs for residents.

"It is good to be back home," said Christie, who was born in Newark, spent the first five years of his life there, and returned for seven years as the state's U.S. Attorney. "I miss this city. I love this city. Unless Newark does well, New Jersey doesn't do well."

The visit was another chance for Christie, who holds a commanding lead in polls and fundraising, to show the cross-party support he's received this election season. He walked side by side with Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, one of the state's most powerful Democrats, and Sheriff Armando Fontura. Both are among the more than 30 Democratic officials across the state who have jumped party lines to endorse the governor over his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono. 

DiVincenzo said fellow Democrats "don't understand what I'm doing."

"This is the first time I've crossed over to vote for a Republican," he said. "But there is no better person to run the state the next four years."

A campaign spokesman noted that this was also Christie's first foray into "retail campaigning" this year — i.e., greeting residents on the street. He previously had limited his appearances to endorsement announcements and headquarter openings.

Dozens of people in the friendly crowd approached Christie asking him for photographs or to sign campaign posters as he walked along Ferry Street in the heavily Spanish and Portuguese neighborhood.

"Hi, I'm Chris," the governor said to a few children. "Nice to meet you."

Calling it the "heart of New Jersey," Christie said the Ironbound — and Newark as a whole — is important to his re-election, since the area historically leans Democratic.

When he beat incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009, Christie received only a sliver of support in Newark. Corzine scored 32,400 more votes than Christie in the city. In all, Christie received just 27 percent of the vote in Essex County four years ago.

"Our country was built on compromise," Christie said told a packed crowd at Iberia Tavern, one of the many Portuguese restaurants that dot the neighborhood. "The Ironbound and how you vote will tell a lot of people: How is New Jersey coming together?"

DiVincenzo said he expects more residents in the area to back Christie at the polls this time around.

"No question," he said. "When I travel around the county, people are speaking very well of Gov. Christie."

Christie noted that his father grew up in the Ironbound and that he himself often visited the area's restaurants when he was U.S. Attorney.

"I'm trying to do less of that now," Christie joked, referencing the lap-band weight-loss surgery he underwent in February.

But, he admitted, "the restaurants in Trenton aren't nearly as good as they are here."

Someone in the crowd said the governor looked like Christie was getting trimmer.

"I'm getting there," he said.

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commented 2013-12-27 23:30:30 -0800
Thank you