New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s communications staff is in charge today, wishing the boss a happy birthday with a light-hearted video about him for his nearly 400,000 followers.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) September 6, 2013
The three-and-a-half-minute montage was packaged as some aides’ homage to their quirky boss, but it also serves as a veiled campaign spot of sorts, underscoring the image Christie is working to project to voters as he runs for re-election in his Democratic-leaning state and looks toward a potential 2016 Republican presidential run. Here are three messages Christie’s team looks to highlight about him in the birthday clip-reel:
1. Christie is a fresh face who speaks to a younger generation of voters.
The video begins and ends with Christie, who turns 51 today, joining late-night television host Jimmy Fallon to “slow-jam” the news, and features clips of him appearing on programs popular among the 18-49-year-old demographic, including Comedy Central’s “Late Night with Jon Stewart” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
The subtext: that Christie is a Republican with some “cool factor,” who may do better than others in his party including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, 66, in appealing to the rapidly expanding bloc of young voters who President Barack Obama and Democrats dominate. Romney often came across during his campaign as stiff and out of touch, and he lost the youngest voters to Obama, 52, last year, garnering backing from only 40 percent of them compared to the president’s 60 percent.
2. Christie is a straight talker who’s not afraid to offend people with his Jersey-style brashness and doesn’t take himself too seriously.
“I am me, and this is what you get, and for those people who it offends, I apologize, but this is what you get; and for those people who like it, good for you — I like it too,” Christie says in one clip, standing at a podium with a New Jersey state flag over his shoulder.
The governor is shown using terms ranging from the impolite to the profane at news conferences and town hall meetings, dismissing claims as “baloney,” “garbage” or “stupid;” calling people “idiot” and “dope,” and telling children to cover their ears before he utters a barnyard epithet. He also quips about being “huggable and loveable” and resembling Tony Soprano, the fictional mafia boss in the former HBO series “The Sopranos” that glamorized his state’s mob subculture.
Christie is campaigning on his what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, arguing that he’s more interested in results than pristine image, more focused on substance than politics. It’s a message honed to appeal across ideological and cultural divides.
“If you are an idiot, I’m going to call you an idiot,” he is shown saying, “and if you don’t like it stop acting like an idiot.”
Or: “How about we go by this rule? Anything that looks stupid is stupid.”
3. Christie is a Republican with whom Democrats can get along.
Near the end of the video, in which no political party is mentioned, Christie is shown on stage next to a smiling former President Bill Clinton. “Let’s give Governor Christie a big hand,” Clinton says warmly. “Thank you — it was great!”
Christie earned the ire of many Republicans when he embraced and praised Obama last year in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but Clinton is one Democrat whose appeal spans partisan lines. Showing them together underlines Christie’s case that he’s a pragmatist who’ll reach out, and wraps New Jersey’s most powerful birthday boy in a helpful post-partisan glow.