Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sparked backlash when he decided to go to a beach in his state after closing beaches statewide following a government shutdown. One person sent a particularly strong message via an airplane banner.
Photos went viral showing the plane banner sending an angry message to Christie after he made headlines for going to the beach with his family despite shutting down the government and the state's public beaches.
“Tell Gov Christie: Get The Hell Off Island Beach State Park,” the banner read after Christie was photographed on the closed beach.
In a phone interview with WNYW, Christie defended his decision to go to the beach despite closing it to the public.
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“The governor has two residences in New Jersey. One down at the beach, at Island Beach State Park, and one at Drumthwacket, which also is in Princeton,” he said. “The governor is allowed to go to his residences and I'm at my residences. I'll tell you this, I said last Monday, a week ago today, that no matter what happens, we were coming here as a family this weekend.”
In the interview, Christie also mocked the local news outlet that broke the story about his family beach visit.
“What a great bit of journalism by The Star-Ledger," he said. "They actually caught a politician being where he said he was going to be with the people he said he was going to be with, his wife and children and their friends. I am sure they will get a Pulitzer for this one. They caught me doing what I said I was going to do with the people I said I was going to be with.”
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Christie shut down the state government on July 1 over a Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield bill, but ultimately approved a compromise bill that would end the three-day shutdown in time for the Independence Day holiday.
“Tonight we achieved the results I asked for,” he said in a news conference, NJ.com reported. “It’s sad that it’s three days late, but I’ll sign the budget tonight. We will get back to business.”
“Everyone should be able to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday without having to be concerned with this,” Christie added. “We can now move on to our business.”
The end of the shutdown means the reopening of not only public beaches statewide, but also state parks that were closed during the time that followed the end of the deadline for the state budget. Ending the shutdown will also allow furloughed state workers to return to their jobs.