Daily Record

Cheers Inside, Jeers Outside For Christie

Daily Record — Wednesday, July 1, 2015

By William Westhoven

LIVINGSTON — While his friends and most loyal supporters cheered his declaration for president inside the gym at Livingston High School, foes of Gov. Chris Christie assembled on a field, behind a temporary fence about 200 yards away from the building, and called for his resignation.

"We're here to send the governor a message," said Anthony Rosamilia, president of the Essex County Education Association, which brought about 900 red-shirted educators to Livingston to protest what they see as Christie's ongoing agression against public educators. "His campaign slogan supposedly is 'tell it like it is,' but we are here to tell it like it is, that his policies have been disasterous for the people of New Jersey, and they would be even worse for the country.

Inside, the vibe was far more upbeat.

While Gov. Chris Christie declared his candidacy for president to a cheering crowd inside Livingston High School, protestors outside the building took a different tone.

"This is just plain awesome that a New Jersey governor is running for president of the United States," said Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26), who knew Christie as a Morris County freeholder more than 20 years ago. "And somebody that will speak up and speak out is a breath of fresh air. That's what we need in this country. We don't need to be powder-puffed or told things that sound good. We need the real truth. Like it or not, he's going to tell you the way it is."

"I think this is an outrageous turnout, I think it's going to be wonderful for New Jersey, and I look forward to hearing more of our good governor's platform," said Hanover Mayor Ron Francioli. "I'm encouraged by what I see and hope he goes a lot further."

"We're very excited about this," said Sen. Tom Kean (R-21). "I think his chances are good."

"I'm here because I believe in him, I believe he has the ability to be president of the United States, and it's all about supporting him," said Somerset County Freeholder Pat Walsh.

With one set of bleachers full of camera crews on one side, and invited guests in the bleachers behind him, Christie and his family took a small, circular stage in the center of the school gym to the thunderous applause.

Some of his longtime friends, including Rep. Leonard Lance, Parsippany Mayor James Barberio and Parsippany Attorney John Inglesino, waved campaign signs from the top row of the bleachers while others took selfies and held up children for a better view.

"How cool could it be to have one of my constituents become president of the United States?" said Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-26). "He's done some amazing things, and I don't think you can ever count him out."

Outside, other groups mingled with the teachers to state their own objections to Christie and his administration.

"He'll do to the country what he's done to New Jersey — mess it up," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "He's go the worst environmental record of any New Jersey governor in history. He's pulled us out of regional greenhouse gas initiatives, stole a billion dollars from the Clean Energy Fund, let Exxon off the hook for pennies on the dollar, the list goes on and on."

"Governor Christie fashions himself as a truth-teller, but his presidential bid is based on pure spin," said New Jersey Working Families Director Analilia Mejia. "Working families from around the state have come out in force to tell the rest of America how it really is in New Jersey after five years of living with Christie's failed policies."

"New Jersey Citizen Action is calling for him to resign today," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the nonprofit group, which brought a busload of shore-area home owners, some of whom said they are still displaced by the storm with no idea when they will get the support they need to rebuild and go home. "We need a governor that is full-time in New Jersey, and cares about New Jersey."

"He put a lot of shoe leather in Sandy," said Parsippany resident Vito Sacco, who disagreed with Salowe-Kaye. "And he lowered my property taxes. He's done a lot of positive things."

"America, take it from his own constituents, you do not want what Chris Christie is selling," Salowe-Kaye said.

"The country is absolutely ready for another Ronald Reagan," said Hanover councilman Thomas "Ace Gallagher. "And I hope Chris Christie is going to be the next Ronald Reagan."

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