Making his first public appearance since last Thursday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie again addressed the George Washington Bridge controversy Tuesday during a major speech, but also signaled that he intends to put the episode behind him. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
Chris Christie opened his State of the State address Tuesday with a note of contrition.
"Now, the last week has certainly tested this administration," the governor of New Jersey said. "Mistakes were clearly made, and as a result, we let down the people we're entrusted to serve."
Christie said he was ultimately responsible for what happens on his watch and would cooperate with all appropriate inquiries into the scandal engulfing his administration: the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that documents show were ordered by his office in an apparent act of political payback.
But just as quickly, he pivoted and moved forward, signaling that he does not intend for the scandal to take him down or even slow him down.
"What has occurred does not define us or our state," Christie said. "This administration and this legislature will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the people's lives in New Jersey to be delayed for any reason."
In all, Christie spent exactly one minute alluding to the scandal. The rest of his 45-minute address touted progress and covered policy proposals from pension reform to longer school days.
He was warmly received by the same lawmakers who have now launched multiple investigations into the scandal, getting a three-minute-long ovation when he entered.
"No state in this country has shown more bipartisan cooperation and governance over the last four years than in New Jersey, and our people our proud of it," Christie said.
That very claim was quickly seized upon by national Democrats, who released an ad.
"He had portrayed New Jersey as kind of a model of bipartisan cooperation. That didn't seem to be the case when it came to the bridge," the ad says.
New Jersey's state Democratic party also launched an ad, saying that Christie has again made New Jersey a national punchline and calling the state of the state "embarrassed."