Livesteam: Christie’s speech at the Reagan Library; Update: Full text added; Update: Christie basically says he’s not running — but won’t say definitively

posted at 8:57 pm on September 27, 2011 by Allahpundit

Just in case something “newsworthy” happens, here’s the embedded video streaming live from the Reagan Library. The text of the speech is embargoed until 9 p.m. so I’ll post it below as an update in a few minutes. As you’ll soon see, though, Dan Foster’s take on it is exactly right. Christie does sound like a guy rolling out a foreign policy doctrine in preparation for a candidacy. Even though he almost certainly isn’t.

Update: C-SPAN’s going to carry it too and it looks like Hannity will carry at least some of it. Christie allegedly told a group of donors at a lunch in California today that he’s not running, but let’s see if there’s a Q&A here after the speech.

Update: It’s 9 p.m. and the embargo is over. Full text of the speech is below. His point is the same as the one Mike Mullen made last year: You can’t be strong abroad if the books aren’t balanced at home.

“Real American Exceptionalism”

Mrs. Reagan, distinguished guests. It is an honor for me to be here at the Reagan Library to speak to you today. I want to thank Mrs. Reagan for her gracious invitation. I am thrilled to be here.

Ronald Reagan believed in this country. He embodied the strength, perseverance and faith that has propelled immigrants for centuries to embark on dangerous journeys to come here, to give up all that was familiar for all that was possible.

He judged that as good as things were and had been for many Americans, they could and would be better for more Americans in the future.

It is this vision for our country that guided his administration over the course of eight years. His commitment to making America stronger, better and more resilient is what allowed him the freedom to challenge conventional wisdom, reach across party lines and dare to put results ahead of political opportunism.

Everybody in this room and in countless other rooms across this great country has his or her favorite Reagan story. For me, that story happened thirty years ago, in August 1981. The air traffic controllers, in violation of their contracts, went on strike. President Reagan ordered them back to work, making clear that those who refused would be fired. In the end, thousands refused, and thousands were fired.

I cite this incident not as a parable of labor relations but as a parable of principle. Ronald Reagan was a man who said what he meant and meant what he said. Those who thought he was bluffing were sadly mistaken. Reagan’s demand was not an empty political play; it was leadership, pure and simple.

Reagan said it best himself, “I think it convinced people who might have thought otherwise that I meant what I said. Incidentally, I would have been just as forceful if I thought management had been wrong in the dispute.”

I recall this pivotal moment for another reason as well. Most Americans at the time and since no doubt viewed Reagan’s firm handling of the PATCO strike as a domestic matter, a confrontation between the president and a public sector union. But this misses a critical point.

To quote a phrase from another American moment, the whole world was watching. Thanks to newspapers and television – and increasingly the Internet and social media – what happens here doesn’t stay here.

Another way of saying what I have just described is that Americans do not have the luxury of thinking that what we have long viewed as purely domestic matters have no consequences beyond our borders. To the contrary. What we say and what we do here at home affects how others see us and in turn affects what it is they say and do.

America’s role and significance in the world is defined, first and foremost, by who we are at home. It is defined by how we conduct ourselves with each other. It is defined by how we deal with our own problems. It is determined in large measure by how we set an example for the world.

We tend to still understand foreign policy as something designed by officials in the State Department and carried out by ambassadors and others overseas. And to some extent it is. But one of the most powerful forms of foreign policy is the example we set.

This is where it is instructive to harken back to Ronald Reagan and the PATCO affair. President Reagan’s willingness to articulate a determined stand and then carry it out at home sent the signal that the occupant of the Oval Office was someone who could be predicted to stand by his friends and stand up to his adversaries.

If President Reagan would do that at home, leaders around the world realized that he would do it abroad as well. Principle would not stop at the water’s edge. The Reagan who challenged Soviet aggression, or who attacked a Libya that supported terror was the same Reagan who stood up years before to PATCO at home for what he believed was right.

All this should and does have meaning for us today. The image of the United States around the world is not what it was, it is not what it can be and it is not what it needs to be. This country pays a price whenever our economy fails to deliver rising living standards to our citizens–which is exactly what has been the case for years now.

We pay a price when our political system cannot come together and agree on the difficult but necessary steps to rein in entitlement spending or reform our tax system.

We pay a price when special interests win out over the collective national interest. We are seeing just this in the partisan divide that has so far made it impossible to reduce our staggering deficits and to create an environment in which there is more job creation than job destruction.

This is where the contrast between what has happened in New Jersey and what is happening in Washington, DC is the most clear.

In New Jersey over the last 20 months, you have actually seen divided government that is working. To be clear, it does not mean that we have no argument or acrimony. There are serious disagreements, sometimes expressed loudly—Jersey style.

Here is what we did. We identified the problems. We proposed specific means to fix them. We educated the public on the dire consequences of inaction. And we compromised, on a bi-partisan basis, to get results. We took action.

How so you ask? Leadership and compromise.

Leadership and compromise is the only way you can balance two budgets with over $13 billion in deficits without raising taxes while protecting core services.

Leadership and compromise is the only way you reform New Jersey’s pension and health benefits system that was collectively $121 billion underfunded.

Leadership and compromise is the only way you cap the highest property taxes in the nation and cap the interest arbitration awards of some of the most powerful public sector unions in the nation at no greater than a 2% increase.

In New Jersey we have done this, and more, because the Executive Branch has not sat by and waited for others to go first to suggest solutions to our state’s most difficult problems.

Being a mayor, being a governor, being a president means leading by taking risk on the most important issues of the day. It has happened in Trenton.

In New Jersey we have done this with a legislative branch, held by the opposite party, because it is led by two people who have more often put the interests of our state above the partisan politics of their caucuses.

Our bi-partisan accomplishments in New Jersey have helped to set a tone that has taken hold across many other states. It is a simple but powerful message–lead on the tough issues by telling your citizens the truth about the depth of our challenges. Tell them the truth about the difficulty of the solutions. This is the only effective way to lead in America during these times.

In Washington, on the other hand, we have watched as we drift from conflict to conflict, with little or no resolution.

We watch a president who once talked about the courage of his convictions, but still has yet to find the courage to lead.

We watch a Congress at war with itself because they are unwilling to leave campaign style politics at the Capitol’s door. The result is a debt ceiling limitation debate that made our democracy appear as if we could no longer effectively govern ourselves.

And still we continue to wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office. We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things that are obvious to all Americans and to a watching and anxious world community.

Yes, we hope. Because each and every time the president lets a moment to act pass him by, his failure is our failure too. The failure to stand up for the bipartisan debt solutions of the Simpson Bowles Commission, a report the president asked for himself…the failure to act on the country’s crushing unemployment…the failure to act on ever expanding and rapidly eroding entitlement programs…the failure to discern pork barrel spending from real infrastructure investment.

The rule for effective governance is simple. It is one Ronald Reagan knew by heart. And one that he successfully employed with Social Security and the Cold War. When there is a problem, you fix it. That is the job you have been sent to do and you cannot wait for someone else to do it for you.

We pay for this failure of leadership many times over. The domestic price is obvious: growth slows, high levels of unemployment persist, and we make ourselves even more vulnerable to the unpredictable behavior of skittish markets or the political decisions of lenders.

But, there is also a foreign policy price to pay. To begin with, we diminish our ability to influence the thinking and ultimately the behavior of others. There is no better way to persuade other societies around the world to become more democratic and more market-oriented than to show that our democracy and markets work better than any other system.

Why should we care?

We should care because we believe, as President Reagan did, that democracy is the best protector of human dignity and freedom. And we know this because history shows that mature democracies are less likely to resort to force against their own people or their neighbors.

We should care because we believe in free and open trade, as exports are the best creators of high-paying jobs here and imports are a means to increase consumer choice and keep prices down.

Around the world– in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa and Latin America—people are debating their own political and economic futures–right now.

We have a stake in the outcome of their debates. For example, a Middle East that is largely democratic and at peace will be a Middle East that accepts Israel, rejects terrorism, and is a dependable source of energy.

There is no better way to reinforce the likelihood that others in the world will opt for more open societies and economies than to demonstrate that our own system is working.

A lot is being said in this election season about American exceptionalism. Implicit in such statements is that we are different and, yes, better, in the sense that our democracy, our economy and our people have delivered. But for American exceptionalism to truly deliver hope and a sterling example to the rest of the world, it must be demonstrated, not just asserted. If it is demonstrated, it will be seen and appreciated and ultimately emulated by others. They will then be more likely to follow our example and our lead.

At one time in our history, our greatness was a reflection of our country’s innovation, our determination, our ingenuity and the strength of our democratic institutions. When there was a crisis in the world, America found a way to come together to help our allies and fight our enemies. When there was a crisis at home, we put aside parochialism and put the greater public interest first. And in our system, we did it through strong presidential leadership. We did it through Reagan-like leadership.

Unfortunately, through our own domestic political conduct of late, we have failed to live up to our own tradition of exceptionalism. Today, our role and ability to affect change has been diminished because of our own problems and our inability to effectively deal with them.

To understand this clearly, one need only look at comments from the recent meeting of the European finance ministers in Poland. Here is what the Finance Minister of Austria had to say:

“I found it peculiar that, even though the Americans have significantly worse fundamental data than the euro zone, that they tell us what we should do. I had expected that, when [Secretary Geithner] tells us how he sees the world, that he would listen to what we have to say.”

You see, without strong leadership at home—without our domestic house in order—we are taking ourselves out of the equation. Over and over, we are allowing the rest of the world to set the tone without American influence.

I understand full well that succeeding at home, setting an example, is not enough. The United States must be prepared to act. We must be prepared to lead. This takes resources—resources for defense, for intelligence, for homeland security, for diplomacy. The United States will only be able to sustain a leadership position around the world if the resources are there—but the necessary resources will only be there if the foundations of the American economy are healthy. So our economic health is a national security issue as well.

Without the authority that comes from that exceptionalism—earned American exceptionalism—we cannot do good for other countries, we cannot continue to be a beacon of hope for the world to aspire to for their future generations.

If Ronald Reagan faced today’s challenges we know what he would do. He would face our domestic problems directly, with leadership and without political calculation.

We would take an honest and tough approach to solving our long-term debt and deficit problem through reforming our entitlement programs and our tax code.

We would confront our unemployment crisis by giving certainty to business about our tax and regulatory future.

We would unleash American entrepreneurship through long-term tax reform, not short-term tax gimmickry.

And we would reform our K-12 education system by applying free market reform principles to education—rewarding outstanding teachers; demanding accountability from everyone in the system; increasing competition through choice and charters; and making the American free public education system once again the envy of the world.

The guiding principle should be simple and powerful—the educational interests of children must always be put ahead of the comfort of the status quo for adults.

The United States must also become more discriminating in what we try to accomplish abroad. We certainly cannot force others to adopt our principles through coercion. Local realities count; we cannot have forced makeovers of other societies in our image. We need to limit ourselves overseas to what is in our national interest so that we can rebuild the foundations of American power here at home – foundations that need to be rebuilt in part so that we can sustain a leadership role in the world for decades to come.

The argument for getting our own house in order is not an argument for turning our back on the world.

We cannot and should not do that. First of all, our economy is dependent on what we export and import. And as we learned the hard way a decade ago, we as a country and a people are vulnerable to terrorists armed with box cutters, bombs, and viruses, be they computer generated or man-made. We need to remain vigilant, and be prepared to act with our friends and allies, to discourage, deter or defend against traditional aggression; to stop the spread of nuclear materials and weapons and the means to deliver them; and to continue to deprive terrorists of the ways, means and opportunity to succeed.

I realize that what I am calling for requires a lot of our elected officials and a lot of our people. I plead guilty. But I also plead guilty to optimism.

Like Ronald Reagan, I believe in what this country and its citizens can accomplish if they understand what is being asked of them and how we all will benefit if they meet the challenge.

There is no doubt in my mind that we, as a country and as a people, are up for the challenge. Our democracy is strong; our economy is the world’s largest. Innovation and risk-taking is in our collective DNA. There is no better place for investment. Above all, we have a demonstrated record as a people and a nation of rising up to meet challenges.

Today, the biggest challenge we must meet is the one we present to ourselves. To not become a nation that places entitlement ahead of accomplishment. To not become a country that places comfortable lies ahead of difficult truths. To not become a people that thinks so little of ourselves that we demand no sacrifice from each other. We are a better people than that; and we must demand a better nation than that.

The America I speak of is the America Ronald Reagan challenged us to be every day. Frankly, it is the America his leadership helped us to be. Through our conduct, our deeds, our demonstrated principles and our sacrifice for each other and for the greater good of the nation, we became a country emulated throughout the world. Not just because of what we said, but because of what we did both at home and abroad.

If we are to reach real American exceptionalism, American exceptionalism that can set an example for freedom around the world, we must lead with purpose and unity.

In 2004, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama gave us a window into his vision for American leadership. He said, “Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us — the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of ‘anything goes.’ Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.”

Now, seven years later, President Obama prepares to divide our nation to achieve re-election. This is not a leadership style, this is a re-election strategy. Telling those who are scared and struggling that the only way their lives can get better is to diminish the success of others. Trying to cynically convince those who are suffering that the American economic pie is no longer a growing one that can provide more prosperity for all who work hard. Insisting that we must tax and take and demonize those who have already achieved the American Dream. That may turn out to be a good re-election strategy for President Obama, but is a demoralizing message for America. What happened to State Senator Obama? When did he decide to become one of the “dividers” he spoke of so eloquently in 2004? There is, of course, a different choice.

That choice is the way Ronald Reagan led America in the 1980’s. That approach to leadership is best embodied in the words he spoke to the nation during his farewell address in 1989. He made clear he was not there just marking time. That he was there to make a difference. Then he spoke of the city on the hill and how he had made it stronger. He said, “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.”

That is American exceptionalism. Not a punch line in a political speech, but a vision followed by a set of principled actions that made us the envy of the world. Not a re-election strategy, but an American revitalization strategy.

We will be that again, but not until we demand that our leaders stand tall by telling the truth, confronting our shortcomings, celebrating our successes and, once again leading the world because of what we have been able to actually accomplish.

Only when we do that will we finally ensure that our children and grandchildren will live in a second American century. We owe them, as well as ourselves and those who came before us, nothing less.

Thank you again for inviting me—God Bless you and God Bless the United States of America.

Update: The second question of the Q&A was whether he’s reconsidering a run or not. He didn’t answer by saying no; rather, he told the crowd to go to and watch the compilation video they posted today. That’s his answer. Here’s the video embedded below. So much for that.

Update: Another questioner pleaded with him to run and he gave a halting answer about how flattered he is by the attention before insisting that the drive to run has to come internally, not from outside enthusiasm. The thing is, he wouldn’t definitively say whether he feels the drive or not. And the crowd was simply eating out of his hand. If he needs a pretext in a week or two to explain why he’s changed his mind, he could point to this speech and the reaction from the audience as having driven him to it.

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Palin, Christie, Ryan, or Daniels all talk about the country needing a leader, but refuse to step in. Perry can’t articulate points well enough to get the country to change direction, Romney’s has supported the state version of Obamacare and Obama’s education policy, Michelle Bachmann thinks vaccinations can cause “mental retardation,” Cain is woefully inexperienced, Santorum is obsessed with social issues while the debt goes out of control, Huntsman is a liberal, Ron Paul is 15% too crazy on foreign policy, I have the feeling this is more like the 1968 election than the 1980 one.


cpaulus on September 28, 2011 at 4:39 AM

As I’ve said before, Christie’s role is that of Sarah Spoiler. In a grotesque twist on the Biblical story of David and Goliath, Goliath (the big threat to the RINO establishment GOP and Obama) is Sarah, and the little bully David is being played by Christie. The game is to counteract her announcement with a big Christie splash that he’s running too, taking away her thunder and if she does, little davie will become her attack dog, immediately berating her as the undesirable, “bad for America” competition.

Whether or not he actually announces isn’t the important thing , but the continuing possibility is the threat is supposed to intimidate her into deciding against taking on the elitist GOP by running.

I hate to reveres biblical history, but this time little David with his bluster will be done for -and possibly his national level career.

It will back fire and this blustery bully understands that she is ready and not the dummy that the GOP has potrayer her being.

The message? Never mess with a Momma Grizzly Goliath.

Don L on September 28, 2011 at 6:43 AM

BTW, I don’t want Christie to run but the RINO Hunters are f’n d-bags… the inability by some people to wink and nod at some politicians who have to say certain things to get elected in certain places annoys me… the Democrats are WAY WAY WAY better at doing that than Republicans…

ninjapirate on September 27, 2011 at 9:12 PM
yep, our base is stupid politically

Oh great, we not only want to run folks who aren’t too conservative(RINOs) so we can drop our principles to win the indie vote, and now we have to beat the left at being deceitful to the citizen voters? Why are we so pitifully ashamed of saying and doing what we know to be right? Why must we imitate the enemy?

How sad, whatever happened to putting up candidates with character and honesty who will defend the constitution, life,the family, and conservative principles.

Oh, she hasn’t announced yet.

Don L on September 28, 2011 at 6:54 AM

It’s just kind of hard to back a person who teases the masses by not declaring either way…frustrating!

Static21 on September 28, 2011 at 7:00 AM

I like Christie, he has spoken truth to power in NJ, and as a NY’er looking on, he has paved the way for other reform minded governors. Even our own Cuomo has used Christie’s fights with the unions to force the unions here to settle for much less than they wanted to. Christie has articulated that particular aspect of the conservative battle remarkably well, with candor and courage.

However, Christie is jot a national figure beyond his highly publicized battles in NJ. As countless commenters here have said again and again, he is where he needs to be right now. We need brave reformers like Christie and Walker fighting the battles on the state level too, and proving at that level that the necessary changes to how business is done will not be the death knell to anyone but the public employee unions. That states can adopt these measures and thrive and then look to other changes that conservatives advocate. This is how the war will be won, by fighting on all fronts with many one star generals fighting a more specific battle in their neck of the woods. Chrisit, more than anyone else, seems to recognize that he is right where he should be at this point in time and I respect him for his candor in that regard.

piglet on September 28, 2011 at 7:07 AM

Reminds me of the Jindal flop, when the RINOs staged him to do a rebuttal of some national address.
entagor on September 28, 2011 at 3:36 AM

That bad? I didn’t watch it, only read comments here.

cpaulus on September 28, 2011 at 4:39 AM

You know, with this current field it comes down to him or Cain. I like Cain, but his inexperience is a concern.

conservative pilgrim on September 28, 2011 at 7:12 AM

she’s not running…………..and if she’s not decided after all this time. Then why would we want a President that can’t make up their mind? Ahem, you to Christ Christie.

by the way…….Christie……we don’t think we should seek “bipartisan consensus” with Progressive Marxists controlling the Democrat party (and having quite the hold now on the GOP as well).

PappyD61 on September 28, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Basilsbest on September 28, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Never would have thought so many at HA would be fawning over Christie who is NOT a Conservative. He does talk a good fiscal conservative routine but remember NJ requires a balanced budget and he had to promise to do things differently than the Dems or he didn’t have a snowball’s chance of winning in NJ. If NJ had the money I’m inclined to think he’d be more than happy to spend it. IMO he probably is also one of the least likely to appeal to social conservatives.

I doubt that he has much name recognition outside the coast/urban areas – other than “isn’t he that really big rude guy who is NJ Governor?” I could have sworn some people here have been whining about candidates not appearing Presidential. /s

katiejane on September 28, 2011 at 9:01 AM

It’s just kind of hard to back a person who teases the masses by not declaring either way…frustrating!

Static21 on September 28, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Sarah isn’t as much “teasing ” the masses as having a strategy that can defeat the elitist GOP and their punditry who have already put up a full scale “she’s not ready” propaganda attack on her. She was hit in “08” to take her out by the RINO McCain’s people for one purpose, to disqualify her for a run in the next (2012) election.

Krauthammmer, Rove, Christie, Coulter, Noonan, Will, Parker etc have all joined in trying to stop her. She’s a lot smarter than they and she knew this dirty stuff was coming -hence the clever strategy of not succumbing to be the “whipping boy” in these early debates.

Christie is mearly the reserved pit bull weapon who will try to take her down as soon as she enters the race.(for a price to be paid later)

As I’ve said before, the conservative’s real enemy is the establishment GOP -and they’ll show Obama some new dirty tricks if they have to, in order to stop her. She is direct trheat to their status quo comfort.

Don L on September 28, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Wow. A great speech, but that was to be expected. His 9/11 one was fantastic too. Shame he isn’t running.

Anton on September 28, 2011 at 9:17 AM

You’re right, he’s a real squish on immigration, more so than Perry I think. He said this in April 2008 at a church forum sponsored by the local chapter of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey:

“Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime,” Christie told more than 60 residents and town officials. “The whole phrase of ‘illegal immigrant’ connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime.”

“Don’t let people make you believe that that’s a crime that the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be doing something about,” he added of entering the country illegally. “It is not.”

TxAnn56 on September 27, 2011 at 11:01 PM

Thank you so much for referencing a real quote. Wow, he really is a liberal on immigration! It would be dang near impossible to back away from those comments without coming across as a huge liar. Figuratively speaking. lol

kg598301 on September 28, 2011 at 9:22 AM

I listened to Christie last night and again this morning, It is/was an amazing speech. Before now I haven’t been a Christie fan, That could change. One thing is for certain, he knows how to take the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to the woodshed.

Guest1.1 on September 28, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Christie is a strong candidate, however I don’t understand his national policy and foreign policy speech if he’s not in the hunt.

rjoco1 on September 28, 2011 at 11:31 AM

I disagree with Gov. Christie’s view that Barack Obama is just a bystander. I ‘wish’ Barack Obama would be just a bystander. I wish he would sit back and keep his hands off this country so the rest of us could live free and prosper. Please President Obama, please, just be a bystander, please stop with the new programs and the spending of our hard earned dollars, and the EPA tyranny, and the socialist governmental controls on every move we make and every breath we take. Please, President Obama, please, just bystand, I beg you.

Mr A on September 28, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Christie: pro-illegal immigration, pro-abortion, a gun grabber, supports Sharia law and the Ground Zero Mosque, and will keep Obamacare. Why in the world would any half-awake conservative like him just because he talks conservative? Liberal’s never admit what they are. Any means to an end their moral code.

Don’t make the Obama 2 mistake of actually believing a liberal ever means what they say.

Dirty old men with candy will tell little girls what they want to hear. He has a track record and it ain’t pretty. Throw darts before you put in this mistake.

Don L on September 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

I’m starting to wonder if Christie has a skeleton in his background that he knows would derail a presidential bid…

Rational Thought on September 28, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Christie: pro-illegal immigration, pro-abortion, a gun grabber, supports Sharia law and the Ground Zero Mosque, and will keep Obamacare. Why in the world would any half-awake conservative like him just because he talks conservative? Liberal’s never admit what they are. Any means to an end their moral code.

Don’t make the Obama 2 mistake of actually believing a liberal ever means what they say.

Dirty old men with candy will tell little girls what they want to hear. He has a track record and it ain’t pretty. Throw darts before you put in this mistake.

Don L on September 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Very well said. Did you see the ad he ran in October 2009 when he was running for office — filled with quotes from Obama. By that time every conservative had figured out Obama was bad news but along comes Christie with the ad praising Obama. How can anyone conservative think he is conservative?

This looks like the insiders from Bush 41 are pushing Christie along with the Weekly Standard. Obviously they don’t want a conservative as Romney was the flavor of the month before Christie. No Republican would run that ad. Don’t believe me, watch the ad and tell me why Christie ran as a Republican:

PhiKapMom on September 28, 2011 at 3:40 PM