Chris Christie speaks at Rowan University on his ideas of the future of the Republican Party. Graphics Editor/Amanda Palma

Former Gov. of New Jersey Chris Christie attended Rowan University Thursday to speak on “The Future of the Republican Party.”

Members of the Democratic and Republican parties attended, showcasing their political support, while others joined out of interest.

“I’d say I’m not really affiliated with either political party,” said Will Reichard, a junior engineering major at Rowan. “It’s just more out of intellectual curiosity than anything, just seeing what the Republican Party has to offer.” 

President Ali Houshmand spoke on behalf of Rowan University and expressed how thankful he was for Christie’s support towards Rowan. Houshmand was “delighted” Christie was in attendance. He continued to discuss Rowan’s expansion over the past few years and how they have not only grown institutionally but also in population.

“All of that thanks to Christie,” Houshmand said.

The former governor was inaugurated back in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013 until the beginning of this year when Phil Murphy took office.     

Christie began his opening remarks by jumping right into topics of the Republican Party and addressed how “[he’s] been very quiet about what’s been going on,” speaking on his successor, Murphy.

“My topic tonight is supposed to be the future of the Republican Party,” Christie said. “Now that’s a really broad topic, when Ben signed that topic to me he didn’t tell me it was the future of the Republican Party in America, in New Jersey, at Rowan- we didn’t get any specifics on that,” he said. “That means, given it’s that broad, I can talk about whatever the hell I want to talk about.”

Reichard expressed his continued curiosity for the event.

“I’m pretty interested [in the topic] because the Republican Party has shifted with Trump holding office,” Reichard said. “I’m interested to see how the party is going to change in the future. If it’s going to remain as is under Trump, or if it may revert back to how it was before 2016.” 

Jason Brooks, a member of the class of 2021 and a Rowan Admissions Ambassador, introduced Christie by expressing his gratitude of the former governor’s leadership during hurricane Sandy.

“[Christie] set the standard for leadership,” Brooks said. 

Christie also took the opportunity to comment on Murphy and aimed to provide context in his speech on his party.  

“My successor can’t stop talking about me,” Christie said. “Other than Tammy, I’m the second most popular name that comes out of his mouth over the course of the last nine months.”

According to northjersey.com, Murphy continues to be vocal on Christie and past reforms under his administration, often stating that he has “‘inherited a mess.’”

Christie, in turn, explained the reason behind his silence.

“I always felt it was important for me to give my successor some space, to give him some room to be able to set his own course, pick his own path and be able to lead the state in the direction he wants to lead it,” Christie said. 

From that, he set his speech to look back on the Republican Party in New Jersey.

“I think it’s time for us to accurately come back and reflect,” Christie said. “I think for the future of our party what we need to do is to boldly and directly and unashamedly talk about the differences in the results that our two parties have produced for this state when we’ve had the opportunity to lead this state.”

Among many topics, Christie spoke on the economy and the difference of views from both parties.

“I’ve heard a lot about New Jersey’s economy. And I heard the governor give a speech a couple weeks ago about his self-proclaimed bold plan to restore New Jersey’s economy,” Christie said.

He explained how they were shocked by Murphy’s statements.

“[This surprised a] whole bunch of people,” Christie said, referring to “the 334,400 people who have taken private sector jobs in the eight years before [Murphy] came to office.”

He continued to spotlight the changes, and his considered benefits for those changes he made while governor such as lowering business taxes, making New Jersey more affordable by eliminating the estate tax and his work in Camden, Atlantic City and on the opioid crisis.

Christie also addressed Houshmand’s remarks on Rowan’s expansion and explained why he believed it happened.

“We have to invest in expanding our colleges and universities; expand what they can teach our children, modernize our children and create more seats,” he said.

The former governor attributed Rowan’s expansion to two reasons, with one being the creation of an attractive environment so students will want to attend and by providing the needed space for them.

“1.4 billion dollars was invested by the taxpayers of New Jersey at the behest of a Republican governor,” Christie said. “So when Democrats come back, as the current governor does, and says ‘Oh gosh all Christie did was cut spending and raise things on the backs of the middle class and that’s what Republicans do.’ Bologna.”

Christie explained how they invested that money to make colleges and universities more affordable for New Jersey residents.    

“The last governor who did any investing in the public college and universities was Tom Kean. What a coincidence, another Republican,” Christie said. “Republicans want to have a future in this state? They have to remind the voters of that.”

He then joked about how he should have asked Houshmand to name a building after himself.

“If our party wants to have a future, especially in this state, it’s time to speak up,” Christie said. “The governor has had almost a year now; he’s passed his first budget, he passed the budget with really interesting legislation; signed it into law. It’s his state now.”

He expressed the job is a lot harder than it looks.

“So just be careful, it fooled me too,” he said speaking on Murphy.

Christie further expressed his pride for the Republican Party.

“I never apologized for eight years, for the things we did,” he said. “And I won’t apologize in ‘retirement,’ if this is what you call this. We need to get somebody to come in and substitute and talk about these things, we shouldn’t run away from them. We should be proud of them.”

He then opened the floor for a question and answer session for attendees, where a lot of the questions were geared towards President Trump, and his opinions on the outcomes of the midterm election.

Christie now serves as a senior legal and political commentator for ABC News and as managing member of the Christie Law Firm and Christie 55 Solutions, LLC., located in Morristown, N.J..

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