N.J. Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Christie on Race vs. Incumbent Governor Jon Corzine

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ANNOUNCER: Working for Bush, he went soft on corporate crime, refusing to indict companies that ripped off the American public.



ANNOUNCER: Christie would cut health care coverage, including mammograms.



ANNOUNCER: If you were caught speeding in an unregistered car, would you get away without points? Chris Christie did.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CAMPAIGN AD) ANNOUNCER: When they demanded the truth, Chris Christie got up and left.



ANNOUNCER: Chris Christie, Bush's friends, Bush's policies. Bad for New Jersey.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: That is what is going on New Jersey — the race for governor getting downright nasty and dirty in the Garden State — Republican Chris Christie taking a pounding on TV, but not at all in the polls.

He leads incumbent Governor Jon Corzine by eight points, which has got the governor and former Goldman Sachs superstar spending and now the White House following. So, why isn't Chris Christie worried? I'm going to ask him.

By the way, we did invite Governor Corzine on to the show. He declines. The last time I actually chatted with him was that — that bad scene that looked it was out of "Flashdance." Now, I promised him, next time, we would be indoors. So far, no luck, but hope, like the sun, springs eternal.

All right, Chris, good to have you.


CAVUTO: Nasty stuff, the ads.

CHRISTIE: Listen...

CAVUTO: What do you think of it?

CHRISTIE: Listen, it's typical Jon Corzine. That is what he did when he ran for the Senate in 2000 against former Governor Florio in a primary and against Bob Franks in a general, what he did to Doug Forrester four years ago, and what he's trying to do to me now.

I knew it was coming. I told everybody in February that he would get in the gutter. That is the kind of campaigner he is. But we have broad shoulders. And we're ready to talk about the real issues the people of New Jersey care about.

CAVUTO: But he has got the money. And there was this view among many of your Republican colleagues that, boy, when he starts unloading with that money, we are worried because, right now, we don't have — you, that is — nearly the amount of money. And — and you are campaigning on Facebook and Twitter by comparison.

CHRISTIE: Oh, we never...

CAVUTO: Not good.

CHRISTIE: Yes, we never will have the amount of money. But we're up on network television now. We're advertising, you know, very heavily, and will be right through Election Day. We're going to have the maximum amount of money we can have, which is $11 million into the public financing...


CAVUTO: He is limitless, though.

So, that — one figure I heard, Chris — and I could be wrong — that he has five ads for every one of yours.

CHRISTIE: That is what it was over the summer. It is not that way now. It is a much, much smaller ratio now than it was then. But, over the summer, we were not spending any money.

CAVUTO: All right.

Now, he brings the big gun in, the president of the United States. The president is very popular in New Jersey, maybe not as popular as he is across the country, but he's still a big draw. Are you worried?

CHRISTIE: No, because the people of New Jersey know that Jon Corzine's failed policy has led to the highest unemployment in the region, the highest tax burden in America, the worst property taxes in America.

And there's nothing President Obama can say in the last five weeks to make that go away. They have lived that failed governorship. And they need change. And I'm the change that we're going to have.

CAVUTO: All right.

What always happens in a race where the incumbent is unpopular, that, sometimes, they don't know a lot about the guy challenging him. You're respected for your prosecutorial work and all that, but new details emerge on you, and then they start picking you apart. And they say, well, would you rather this guy than the guy you know?

And you are going to be defined to things like, well, scandals, and special sweetheart deals, and people are going to scratch their head and say, well, maybe I should just go to the dance with the girl who brought me here.

CHRISTIE: Well, the signal difference between me and Jon Corzine is, he has said, last week in The Philadelphia Inquirer he won't rule out raising taxes again in the second term.

I'm going to cut taxes in my four years as governor.

CAVUTO: Would you rule out ever raising them?

CHRISTIE: I will not raise taxes as governor. You can't.

CAVUTO: Is this like a Bush moment? Or...

CHRISTIE: Well, it is Christie. And the Christie moment is, I will not raise taxes on the citizens of the state, which is already the highest tax burden state in America, worse than New York, worse than California.

Our people are suffocating under taxes and excessive spending. And they need a governor who is willing to say no to the special interests in Trenton, and no to spending, and yes to tax cuts. That is the governor I'm going to be.

Jon Corzine is going to raise taxes.

CAVUTO: But you — but you got a state that was recently voted the worst of the 50 in terms of the business climate. So, you — you — you will have all of these entrenched costs and pensions and public worker benefits. Are you going to tell those workers, I have to cut your pensions eventually?

CHRISTIE: No. Well, listen, what we're going to do is, we're going to stop adding new people to the pensions. State workers, excluding law enforcement, new ones going forward have to have a 401(k) plan. I have said that right from the beginning of the campaign.

Part of the way to deal with a long-term deficit in a pension fund is to stop adding new members to that pension fund, adding new obligations.

CAVUTO: But, even if you did all of that, and you succeeded at that, you have got these entrenched costs that are so deep in New Jersey, and not in just New Jersey, but particularly profound in New Jersey, that you would almost have to raise taxes...


CAVUTO: ... to pay for it.

CHRISTIE: No, Neil, I don't agree.

What we need to do is to stop spending so much. And...

CAVUTO: Every governor says that, no offense to you.


CAVUTO: And I know your — your heart is that, but I have heard Republicans and Democrats say kind of the same thing in different states. I'm going to — I'm going to weed out the waste, the fraud, the abuse. I'm going to really watch the dimes here. Ronald Reagan said that.

And they can't.

CHRISTIE: Well, they said the same thing when I became U.S. attorney and I said I was going to focus on corruption and root out corruption in New Jersey. They said it could not be done.

And, yet, 130 Republicans and Democrats later all sent to jail, another one of my cases that I indicted just pleaded guilty today from the corrupt Bergen County Democratic organization. You know, they that could not be done. And I proved, with the good problem I had there, that I could do what. I am going to bring the same attitude to the governor's office.

CAVUTO: All right. Well, you are a take-no-prisoners type of guy.

And the question I have to generally ask you — I am a New Jersey resident. In fact, you and I are almost neighbors.


CAVUTO: So, we're just down the street from one another. Why does New Jersey have so many crooks?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think part of it is that we have to much government. I mean, we have 566 municipalities and 611 school boards. And there's so many targets of opportunity, unfortunately.

And, in some areas of our state, it's a cultural thing that has been passed on from generation to generation of corrupt public officials. And, so, you're never, ever going to stop all of it. But let me tell you it is a much different atmosphere today than it was eight years ago, when I became U.S. attorney.

People understand that the United States attorney's office now, along with the FBI, are going to clamp down on corruption. And, if you take money, whether you're a school board member...


CHRISTIE: ... or whether you're a member of the state legislature, you're going to go to jail.

CAVUTO: You know what is kind of screwed up in — in New Jersey? And it was screwed up in California, still is, in both states, obviously — and even after big votes in California screwed up property taxes.

Now, they have — they have tried to rein that in, with voters essentially petitioning government, you don't change something, we will force the issue.

So they did. Property taxes still high. They're not going to go up as much, but they are still very high. In New Jersey, you have got all these Byzantine communities, municipalities, and townships, you know, funding everything through property tax.

How are you going to change that?

CHRISTIE: Well, first, we have got to get them to share services.

We have so many redundancies in municipal government across the state. And it is happening already in New Jersey in certain isolated places, in Brick and Toms River down in Ocean County. You have them sharing services, literally saving millions of dollars for their taxpayers.

CAVUTO: So, why don't more do it? I mean, for those who aren't familiar — and this happens in a lot of states — you will have a township and a borough. You will have a community and the greater town.

In New Jersey, it is rife with them. And they don't even talk to each other.


CAVUTO: So — so, how are you going to get this Woodstock kumbaya moment?


CAVUTO: What are you going to do?

CHRISTIE: Well, we're going to do it in two different ways.

One, we're going to give out grants out to towns to encourage them to share — study shared services for their communities. And here's the accountability piece. The accountability piece is, if you get that study and it shows you can save money and deliver those services, you have two choices. Either implement the plan or give me my money back, one or the other.

And I think that's going to give towns — they're going to be forced politically to look at it. And once they look at it and see they can save money, they are going to decide, do I save money for the people in my town, or do I have to write a check back to the state government and explain that to my local residents?

I don't think that's going to be a feasible alternative. I think they're going to start sharing services. We need to break down the fear about this. Towns won't lose their individual, you know, esprit de corps in that town if they share services and the department of public works are merged.

But we need to do those kind of things.

CAVUTO: But every maverick tries to do this stuff that you're talking about if you were to get elected. Barack Obama said, I'm going to be a different type of guy. And the maverick entrenched — the maverick faces the entrenched bureaucracy. And you would face the entrenched bureaucracy. Barack Obama has had a devil of a time with that bureaucracy — many of his critics say because he is all for that bureaucracy — that's neither here nor there — that it is tough. And Barack Obama is a living example that inspiration only goes so far.

CHRISTIE: Well, it is true. But, you know, I have also said during this race that I'm going to govern as a one-termer. And I think it's a powerful statement in...


CAVUTO: Yes, that — I want to be clear on that. You say you will govern as a one-termer. That means you do not want to run for a second term?

CHRISTIE: Well, it means that I don't care.


CAVUTO: Well, I know you say that, but would you rule out running for a second term?

CHRISTIE: I won't rule out running for a second term, but I will say is, I will govern and make decisions that give no regard to what the political fortunes will be in four years.

CAVUTO: But doesn't every politician say that?

CHRISTIE: No. I don't think you've ever heard anybody in New Jersey say that, that they don't care about a second term.

CAVUTO: Yes, but they're not going to brag about saying, well, I'm really keeping an eye on a second term, right?

CHRISTIE: No, all you do is watch their actions. Watch their actions. And you know, what they care about is a second term.

From the minute they take their hand off the Bible, they're worried about four more years. I am worried about the four I am being given. And if I make these tough decisions, which I will do, and I am still politically radioactive after four years, send me back home to Morris County. I have got four kids between 6 and 16. I am working the rest of my life anyway. So, it doesn't matter to me.

CAVUTO: One way or the other.

Your opponent is a former Goldman Sachs co-chair, a very rich guy, very much associated with Wall Street and its excess. He is going to marshal all of that and then some and say that he was the guy who tried to change that culture.

What do you say?

CHRISTIE: Oh, he was part of it. He helped create it.

And, candidly, you know, he said four years ago he was going to bring Wall Street to State Street in Trenton. And he sure did, more taxes, more debt, smoke-and-mirrors budgeting that has led to the near bankruptcy of our state. We saw what happened there. We don't want to let it happen in New Jersey.

And all he's promised is more of the same if we give him four more years. We need to bring fundamental change to Trenton. And sending a federal corruption prosecutor to the front office in Trenton will bring fundamental change.

CAVUTO: Are your kids OK with all of this?

CHRISTIE: They're great. They're good. They're doing well. They're focused now on school.

It's much easier now, because they have school to keep them busy, then it was over the summer. They have got homework every night. They are not watching these crazy commercials on TV or any of the rest of it. They have got work to do.


CAVUTO: I will tell you, the only thing I like about it, you and I live on the same street. And since — the closer we get to the election, they have the state police and troopers all over street now. So, my daughter can't speed. My wife can't speed. I can't speed.


CAVUTO: We will see what happens.

CHRISTIE: Neil, thank you.

CAVUTO: Chris Christie, thank you very, very much.


CAVUTO: By the way, you can catch the candidates for New Jersey governor debating live on October 16 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. We will be streaming it live on FOXNews.com, where, no doubt, my daughter will ask why she can't speed on our street.


CAVUTO: All right.

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