Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said he thinks First Lady Michelle Obama “has no business” influencing what is served in school lunch rooms. This strong stance contradicts Christie’s praise of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign in 2011.
During a Jan. 18 campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, presidential candidate Christie took a question from 11-year-old Jacob Royal, who asked what was presumably the most adorable policy question of the 2016 election season.
Royal said he misses his old school lunches, particularly his “crispitos” tortilla shells, CBS News reports. The elementary school student added that he is tired of having more fruits and vegetables added to his lunch tray.
“What are you going to do about the lunches?” Royal asked Christie. “Because they were fine when Mrs. Bush was the first lady, but now that Mrs. Obama is the first lady, they’ve gone down.”
Christie’s response was forceful.
“The first lady has no business being involved in this,” the New Jersey governor said, according to CNN. “She wants to give her opinions? That’s fine. She can give her opinions about what people should have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. She’s like any other American. She can give her opinions.”
Christie concluded that Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, in which she partnered up with the Department of Agriculture to set new standards for the healthiness of school lunches, was an overreach.
“But using the government to mandate her point of view on what people should be eating everyday is none of her business,” Christie said.
This stance is a surprising twist for the New Jersey governor, who praised Michelle Obama’s program in 2011, saying that it was an important step in helping curb the child obesity epidemic.
“I’ve struggled with my weight for 30 years,” Christie said at the time, according to CBS News. “And it’s a struggle. And if a kid can avoid that in his adult years or her adult years, more power to them. And I think the first lady is speaking out well.”
Michelle Obama had even praised Christie for undergoing his lap-band surgery in 2013 to help lower his weight.
“I think the Governor is terrific,” she told NBC at the time, according to CNN. “His family is wonderful, and I wish him the best. The one thing that I will say is that there are millions of people like the governor who struggle with adulthood obesity, and that’s one of the reasons why I think ‘Let’s Move’ is so important, because we want to start working with kids when they’re young so that they don’t have these challenges when they get older.”
While Christie’s answer pleased Royal, the 11-year-old would likely be disappointed by the governor’s Jan. 19 pocket vetoing of a proposal to institute mandatory recess in New Jersey elementary schools, according to NewJersey.com.
“I am sure there are many students as well as parents, teachers and administrations, as well as pediatricians, who are are disappointed,” Democratic State Sen. Shirley Turner of Mercer, New Jersey told NewJersey.com following the decision. “I think the governor is out to lunch on this one.”