Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made the first State of the State address of his second term, a speech emphasizing his accomplishments and acknowledging work to be done. The state of Chrisie’s PR, however, is a far more negative picture that could jeopardize any chance of a presidential run in 2016.
Last week, Christie faced allegations that lane closures on the George Washington Bridge were manufactured by key members of his staff as a form of political retribution. Yesterday, Christie gave his address hours after new accusations, that he misappropriated $25 million in New Jersey’s “Stronger Than the Storm” ad campaign, and that he timed the ads – which featured him – to run right before the election.
“The last week has certainly tested this administration,” Christie began in his address. “We let down the people. I’m the governor, I’m ultimately responsible for what happens on my watch, both good and bad.” He then went into the state of the state, painting a far sunnier picture than the current state of his PR.
THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Be smart and be careful, for none are immune to a takedown. As facts on the scandals are too new and too few, it’s difficult to say where or if Christie went wrong. But the higher one’s aspirations, the more careful one must be. Christie’s defense against the Bridgegate – that he didn’t know – is also the weakest; it implies lack of control over a shady team. If he did know, any fifth grader could tell Christie et al that email is forever. Either way, when one is falling from a previously graceful high point, go back to doing what you do best, at double the effort. In Christie’s case, that means fighting for the average Joe – and hoping he wasn’t caught in those traffic jams.