“The access has just been minimal at best,” New Jersey Press Association executive director George White told The Associated Press.
Christie’s office responded that his numerous town hall meetings with constituents, as well as his monthly hour-long radio appearance on NJ 101.5 and interviews with individual reporters, prove that the governor is still accessible and answerable to the public. “The governor believes it’s just as important, if not more important, to communicate directly with his constituents as it is to communicate with the media,” Christie spokesperson Kevin Roberts told the AP.
Christie’s decision to shy away from press conferences, where he is more likely to speak off-the-cuff to reporters asking him more challenging questions, comes as Republican leaders expect him to announce his intention to run for president. According to CNN reporter Peter Hamby, Christie’s public image has recently been damaged by a series of embarrassments, including his appearance “cavorting” with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during a playoff game, as well as his statement that child vaccinations should a matter of choice for parents.
Walter Luers, the president of the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, told the Associated Press that Christie may be limiting his press appearances in order to limit the possibility that such embarrassments could further sabotage his presidential campaign. “You can’t risk having a gaffe that gets exploited in New Hampshire or Iowa,” Luers said.