This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," May 4, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right. Note to Republicans in Washington, if you want to get your mojo back, maybe you should take a look at New Jersey and take a close look at this guy. Because whatever he is doing seems to be working. One of the few Republicans registering in any place right now, Chris Christie is running for governor of the Garden State, very Democratic state. And in the latest poll he is leading Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine by some 7 points. He is here to chat with me live right now.
Good to have you.
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Great to be here, Neil.
CAVUTO: We were just chatting, when you were nowhere in the polls, and before you registered after your prosecutor days, you could yell in the forest and no one heard you. Now you are up there and you're a national target for Democrats.
CHRISTIE: Well, yes, listen, Democrats are concerned, if you had Jon Corzine's record, you would be concerned too. Now we are the highest tax burden state in the country. Fiftieth in business tax climate. Fiftieth in the small business survival index. Thirteenth- to 20-most expensive property taxed counties in America are in New Jersey. Highest unemployment rate in 16 years. This is not a resume to run for reelection on.
CAVUTO: But you know, Chris, and I am a Jersey resident, in fact, you and I are neighbors, I should point out...
CAVUTO: . and disclose. Republicans have a knack in New Jersey of grabbing the defeat from the jaws of victory. And that was no better illustrated during the whole McGreevey disaster. And I'm wondering, if you can't win then, how can you win now?
CHRISTIE: Well, I think what the big difference is that economically times were relatively good during the McGreevey disaster, his resignation. And I think Dick Cody came in afterwards and, you know, he at least calmed the waters, even though his policies were just as bad as Jim McGreevey's were.
But now people are really hurting. I've been traveling all over the state, Neil, for the last four months, and you can hear in people's voices their fear and their pain. And they just don't believe Jon Corzine gets it or hears them. And so I think that's what makes it different this time.
CAVUTO: Nevertheless, we had the man who is going to oppose you in the primary, and he is saying that you are not conservative enough. That you do not have pedigree conservative credentials. He'll support you if you win, take the nomination, but that it's going to divide the party. Do you think it's going to divide the party?
CHRISTIE: No, I really don't. And you know, it is unfortunate that Steve keeps saying stuff like that. Because, you know, I am the only person in the race, Republican or Democrat, who is saying that we need to cut taxes across-the-board for everyone just like Ronald Reagan did.
CAVUTO: So you must be listening to Lonegan a little bit more now because you used to ignore him and now — now you're not.
CHRISTIE: Well, you're 30 days away from the primary, so it's about time to starting engaging. I think what I.
CAVUTO: Is he registering — are you getting a sense that he is registering on the right?
CHRISTIE: Oh, listen, he has always registered. This guy has been running for office for years. This is his second time running for governor. He has never stopped running from 2005.
CAVUTO: But that Republicans are going to eat each other in this state?
CHRISTIE: No, I don't believe that is going to happen, because I believe Steve when he says that after I win the primary on June 2nd, that he will support me. And the fact of the matter is he has a tax plan that is going to raise taxes on 70 percent of New Jerseyans. And so.
CAVUTO: Well, he has this flat tax plan.
CHRISTIE: Right. Well, it's his tax plan, which says 70 percent of New Jerseyans are going to pay higher income taxes under Steve Lonegan. Seventy-five percent of senior citizens. I'm for a tax plan like Ronald Reagan, like the late Jack Kemp.
CAVUTO: Well, then what do you think of Jon Corzine's plan? He has got — you know, states are required to have a balanced budget, and one of the ways he is going to get there is put a surtax on millionaires. And you don't have to be a millionaire to qualify.
But would you, if you became governor, erase that? Take that out?
CHRISTIE: I would cut taxes across the board for everyone, from the very top of the wage scale down to the very bottom. Because Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, and others showed us that that is the way you get real economic growth. And that was the engine of the growth in the 1980s.
And in New Jersey as well, where, under Governor Kean we had 450,000 new jobs in part because he followed Reagan and Kemp on these tax cuts.
CAVUTO: But you also had much better economic times. You're in a big hole right now. And even people folks like Jeb Bush have been saying maybe this fixation on Ronald Reagan is overdone, overwrought, just cool it. What do you say?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, it is not a fixation on Ronald Reagan, it is a commitment to the principles that Reagan stood for, which is lower taxes for everyone is better for the economy in general.
What New Jersey should do is to lower taxes now and that's what I'll do when I'm governor, for everyone so that when the economy nationally does start to kick back in, we will be a leader out of the recession, not a laggard.
You won't do that by Steve Lonegan's plan of raising taxes on 70 percent of New Jerseyans.
CAVUTO: Well, anyone in any of the other 49 states listening to this, Chris, no offense, are just saying, what the heck is he talking about? So stepping back, you're kind of just giving this image of this new Republican who, if succeeds this fall and defeats Jon Corzine, is breathing new life into the Republican Party?
Now is he breathing new life into the Republican Party because of his tax stance or because as a state prosecutor, for those who don't know, I mean, you went after bad guys on the right and the left, and were throwing them in jail faster than me as a Wendy's buffet. So you were pretty good at that.
What will be your clarion call? What will be the secret of your mission statement?
CHRISTIE: We have to return to conservative common-sense values, Neil. And that is cutting taxes, and law and order, it's both. Rudy Giuliani showed it here in New York City. He cut taxes, he aggressively cut spending, which I will do as well with the line item veto. And he made law and order.
CAVUTO: But Rudy had a lot of money going for him. You are not poor guy, but you're not nearly as wealthy as Jon Corzine. And he is going to have a lot of money to fight.
CHRISTIE: He is going to need all that money. You have his record that he has carried.
CAVUTO: But he is 7 points now, and it used to be more, right?
CHRISTIE: Well, it's going to go up and down. But think about this, in the last 10 years, I am the first Republican to lead any Democrat in New Jersey in statewide in more than on poll. I've led.
CAVUTO: Do you think if you had botched this.
CAVUTO: . not that I wish you well, fair and balanced, we would love the governor to come on too. But if botch this, there is no hope for Republicans at all.
CHRISTIE: I'm not going to botch it. I mean, I'm going to be governor come January 2010. There's no question about that. I'm going to win the primary on June 2nd, because they have seen the record I have in New Jersey as U.S. attorney. And they know that I'm going to get the job done as governor.
CHRISTIE: I'm going to be your governor, Neil.
CAVUTO: And we're going to have security all around at our houses. I can't deal with that. All right. Chris Christie, thank you very much.
CHRISTIE: Thank you, Neil.
CAVUTO: We'll see you very soon.
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