America learned four things Tuesday afternoon from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s press conference.
1) Christie (R) cannot walk away from the state of New Jersey after a short time as governor. “I couldn’t get by the idea that I was going to leave here after 20 months,” he said.
2) He’s “inspired” by all the people who begged him to run, given the well-exposed weaknesses of every GOP candidate who’s ever taken a question at a debate;
3) His son alerted him to a Christie-is-fat joke on the Internet;
4) The first names of the New Jersey statehouse press corps include, but aren’t necessarily limited to, Terry, Josh, Jonathan, Ginger, Charlie, Matt, Ed, Monica, Brian, Lisa, Marsha, Darrell, and Max. At least. Please excuse any misspellings; those are the names that the governor used as he solicited inquiries from the podium.
The guy took on every question that the media contingent could fashion, yielding a press conference that went on way too long — about a half-hour too long. There are only so many ways, after all, that you can repeat the talking point about your commitment to the state of New Jersey. Wrote one wag on Twitter: “Shorter Chris Christie: This feels AWESOME! Can I keep talking?”
Though narcissism may be a necessary explanation for Christie’s hunkering down at the lectern, it’s not sufficient. The governor stayed and answered the same question over and over again in part because he needs to please another constituency. And that’s the reporters who were arrayed in front of him.
Just like Christie himself, Terry, Josh, Jonathan, Ginger & Co. aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be covering the state on which Christie will stake his reputation and a possible shot at the White House in some future election. And if Christie keeps doing what he did today, positive stories will continue to flow from Trenton.
For future candidates looking to create positive public images, sample from the Christie press-conference guide:
1) Show knowledge of the journalism!. The governor chuckled after getting a question from Charlie, muttering something about how Charlie was concerned about the governor’s future. He cracked wise about how you’d never suspect such a thing from reading Charlie’s columns. Mission accomplished: The only thing that journos appreciate more than someone reading their work is, well, see item 3). After handling the same question for approximately the fourth time, the governor noted that the press corps was trying to find ”something” about the decision that Christie wasn’t disclosing. Even so, he showed patience in answering the same question posed by multiple questioners. No one in the press corps felt dissed by the governor. (Except perhaps for Charlie, whose question Christie didn’t fully answer.)
2) Humanize your press corps. Lisa asked an aggressive question of the governor, whose initial response was this: “I have to point out to all of you who are new here that Lisa is getting very good.” No sharp elbows in Lisa’s copy for a while!
3) Praise your press corps, even if praise is absurd. In closing out his session, Christie addressed his interrogators:
I appreciate all of your coming today. I appreciate all the great deference you’ve given to me in making this decision. I think all of you have done your jobs well in covering this. I have to get back to work.
Brilliant stuff here. Deference? Where’s the deference? Every reporter in New Jersey and beyond has been blanketing the governor and his entire political organization for a leak here, a whisper there. That’s total nonsense, but it sounds good, and reporters love nothing more than to have their work credited.
This guy could have a future. White House press secretary?