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1984 UD alumnus and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks
with Prof. Lindsay Hoffman, sharing political insights and memories of
his days as a student.
Trump will be impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of
Representatives, Chris Christie told a packed Mitchell Hall audience on
Wednesday night, Nov. 7. But he won’t be removed by the Senate, he
“The Democrats didn’t start this not to finish it,” Christie said of
the House-led impeachment inquiry, which would require a Senate trial to
convict and remove the president from office. “But [the] 20 Republican
[senators needed for that to happen] are not taking off a red jersey and
putting on a blue one 10 months before the election. It’s just not
going to happen.”
With trademark candor, sharp humor and a palpable pride for his alma
mater, the former New Jersey governor and presidential hopeful, a 1984 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, spoke as part of the National Agenda Speaker Series on “Deciphering Political Power.”
That power, he said, resides in the collective will of the American people, whose allegiances seem as polarized as ever.
“The people who hate [Trump] will watch [the proceedings] nonstop and
eat it up, like, ‘Yeah! Hit him again!’,” Christie said. “The people
who support him will go, ‘Waste of time. What’s on Fox News?’ where Sean
Hannity will be having some other show, on something else that won’t
Meanwhile, compromise and the ability to reach beyond party lines will further erode, he said.
“I am hopeful this will exhaust people,” said Christie, who believes
that the volume of political combat and lack of progress will lead to a
different kind of election in 2024—but not next year, which he views as
“a perpetual spring break [for politicians] who aren’t going to do any
work anyway; they’re just going to go out and campaign and posture and
wait for November 2020.”
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
A capacity crowd fills Mitchell Hall on Nov. 7 to hear former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discuss the state of politics.
How it will play out is anybody’s guess. Even 2016 was a surprise for
Christie, who reflects now on an anecdote from the campaign trail that
reveals the larger political landscape of our recent history: Christie’s
wife (and fellow Blue Hen) Mary Pat was campaigning door-to-door in New
Hampshire when a woman invited her into her home, poured her a cup of
tea, gushed over her husband’s record and kindly reminded her that her
family would be voting for Trump. When asked why, the answer was simple.
“Oh, dear,” she said, “we don’t need another politician.”
“He was destined to win,” Christie says now. “It was beyond reason—it was emotion.”
And it’s that emotion that propels both politics and politicians, he
believes. Conservatism, like liberalism, is about being true to the
things you believe in your heart, he said. And when asked what advice he
would give students and future public servants, he echoed those
sentiments, telling them to “put into action what’s in your heart.”
“Keep your ears open. Get as many points of view as you can. Listen
to as many points of view as you can. Show up. Help people,” he advised.
“The cream rises to the top.”
It was advice he once received at UD from professors like the late
Jim Soles, who “cared about his students in class and out.” In fact,
when Christie first ran for governor in 2009, one of the campaign phone
line volunteers was none other than Dr. Soles, talking to constituents
in his deep Southern accent and asking them, “Who ya’ll votin’ for?”
Then there was Jim Oliver, now the Emma Smith Morris Professor Emeritus
of Political Science, an “incredibly serious dude who taught me a lot
about listening because he was a good listener, and you wanted to listen
to him.” There was also Jim Magee, Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor
Emeritus of Political Science, “who encouraged you to think, to really
think,” and whose civil liberties class was Christie’s “first law school
class years before I ever went to law school.”
“At UD, you make friends for life,” the former governor said,
speaking to both the audience and to Magee, who was sitting in the front
of the auditorium. “And it’s not just the other students, it’s the
Of course, one student would forever change Christie’s life. Mary Pat
Foster, who ran as secretary on Christie’s successful UD class
presidency ticket, would re-emerge from a study abroad trip to London
and Paris at the Deer Park, sporting a new bob haircut and stirring new
feelings in her old friend. They went on their first date the next
night, in February 1984, and have been together ever since.
On his trip back to campus this fall, Christie paused on the steps of Memorial
Hall and texted his wife a photo of The Green at sunset, accompanied by
an endearing caption: “Where it all began.”
The National Agenda series, presented by the University’s Center for Political Communication, has been exploring the theme “Direction Democracy” this fall. The
next program in the series on Wednesday, Nov. 20, will be John Della
Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of
Politics. He will speak on “Measuring Millennials.”
A video of the Nov. 7 program with Christie is available online.
Article by Artika Casini; photos by Kevin Quinlan
Published Nov. 7, 2019