OTR Interviews

Christie on budget battle: No one will come out unscathed

N.J. governor says the people are tired of both parties' dysfunction in Washington, reflects on monster storm Sandy one year later and his Points of Light honor


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 14, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is blasting Democratic and Republican members of Congress for not doing their jobs. We spoke with Governor Christie at the "Points of Light" charity event here in Washington. The governor was honored for his extraordinary work on the Superstorm Sandy recovery.


VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, tell me what it's like to win this award?

NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, it's really wonderful to be acknowledged for all the work that everyone else did in helping to rebuild our state after Sandy. It's really a wonderful thing. I felt like the support for me to be down here to represent all those folks who have done such great work in getting us back on our feet.

VAN SUSTEREN: I was up there and it was a horrible mess. How are you doing now?

CHRISTIE: You know, we're getting there. You know, we're certainly far from finished. It's almost a year. It will be a year in a couple of weeks. A lot of businesses are back and most of the homeowners are back, but there are still a few thousand people who are not back in their homes. And so we got to get them back, but it's going to take some time. You know, we lost or had severely damaged 365,000 homes. So it's going to take a while to get all that back.

VAN SUSTEREN: With 20/20 hindsight, what could have made the recovery faster? What do you need? What do you want next time?

CHRISTIE: That Congress could have acted a lot faster. I mean, really that's the only thing so far that's been a problem. There are some federal bureaucratic sufficient that I think no matter what program we're talking about that size, you're going to be always dealing with, but Congress waited 100 days to act. It's the longest they ever waited to act after a disaster of that scope.

We could have been three months further long if they acted at the same speed they acted after Katrina. But instead they made New York and New Jersey wait 100 days and so I think that was the biggest thing that's delayed the recovery.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think a lot of us complains about Congress how fast they react tonight especially took them nine days to do something for the death benefits for our soldiers.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, this is part of the whole problem of what they're engaged in right now. They're hired to run the government not to close it and they should be getting their job done and they're not. And both sides are a disappointment.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has the shutdown affected New Jersey?

CHRISTIE: Not yet, but it will. You know, if it continues for a much longer period of time, it will start to affect Sandy recovery efforts. So far, so good, it hasn't. But if this is a very elongated closure, it could start to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: A lot of groups came in from other places to help with Sandy. One of the things that I was always concerned about is whether or not the group's coming in to help from around the country, well organized and coordinated so that was a good thing?

CHRISTIE: It was a great thing. And we had folks, we had Southern Baptists come up with mobile kitchens that they put all over the state and were making meals for people who didn't have them. And obviously the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army were also an enormous help and then just lots of kids came up on their winter breaks to help people and organized by colleges. So it was a really got effort. A lot of those organizations have done this before and they know exactly what they're doing. They are really helpful.

VAN SUSTEREN: I came thereupon and we tried to hit the ground a lot to help people. They have done so many of these that it like a well oiled piece of machinery. They have got trucks, people coming from all over. They have got churches where may have already arranged to park all their trailers. There's a huge semi-tractor trailer full of chainsaws. It's an amazing effort.

CHRISTIE: It is and what it also shows you, is just the great heart of people all across this country who, you know, maybe had never been to our state before in our lives. Many of them hadn't been, but they heard there was a problem. They saw the images over television and the newspapers and they said we got to come and help. That's one of the things that this is all about tonight that people volunteer their time to help others and they did a great job for us in New Jersey.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why does it take so much to sort of bring out that goodness? Why can't we sustain that a little bit more?

CHRISTIE: I think we can. I think in Washington they can't. But, you know, across the country, my experience is that people sustain goodness every day and that's part of what makes our country great. Sometimes those of us who are in this business, whether it's politics like me, or the media like you, we tend to focus on the things that go on in Washington, D.C. or some of the state capitals.

But across the country, there are so many things happening. There are so many people that give so generously of their time. We sustain it as a country, not only here but around the world helping people in need. So I think we're doing pretty well.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you brought up Washington so let me ask you. What's the problem here, why can't they talk to each other and get something done?

CHRISTIE: Because they don't talk to each other on a regular basis. They don't develop relationships across party lines. They don't begin to even think about these things until there's a crisis that they themselves created because of their own behavior. It's a lack of leadership on both parties. We saw this thing coming for months. Everybody plays brinksmanship and people who I have spoke within across the country, they're tired of it and no one's going to come out this unscathed in Washington nor should they.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congratulations getting Miss America back to Atlantic City.

CHRISTIE: Listen, it's really good stuff. When you're the governor who gets Miss America back to New Jersey then you can pretty much retire after that, Greta. It's pretty good.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Governor. Congratulations on getting award.

CHRISTIE: Thanks, Greta. It's great to see you tonight.