New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have used Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate to pitch himself as the best candidate equipped to fight terrorism – but he also came under scrutiny by some who charged he used sexist rhetoric in trying to make a point about national security.
In his opening statement, the governor referenced a bomb threat that resulted in the closure of schools in Los Angeles Unified School District earlier in the day. Christie wondered what the effect would be on children and parents the next day.
“Think about the mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop wondering whether their children will arrive back on that bus safe and sound,” he said. “Think about the fathers of Los Angeles, who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children,” he added.
The criticism came quickly with some arguing Christie was suggesting men went to work while women shuttled their children back and forth from school.
“Chris Christie’s Los Angeles is stuck in the sexist 1950s,” wrote the New Republic’s Gwyneth Kelly. “… Christie must not be aware that women make up over 40% of the workforce in California.”
Lisa Bloom, legal analyst for NBC News reiterated that sentiment. “Chris Christie’s opening statement has mothers taking kids to school and dads going to work. As if we are living in 1950,” she tweeted. Guardian columnist Jill Filipovic tweeted, “In Chris Christie world, mothers take kids to the bus stop, while fathers head off to work worrying about their wives and children.”
Christie’s campaign pushed back on criticism. “This is absolutely a shred considering his wife is the breadwinner of the family and for many years Gov. Christie dropped the children off at the school,” said spokeswoman Samantha Smith. Up until April, his wife was managing director at investment firm Angelo, Gordon & Co.
During the debate, Christie—who has been making headway in the early voting state of New Hampshire—frequently referenced his experience dealing with terrorism cases as U.S. attorney in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.
He went after President Obama and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, arguing they have failed to protect Americans’ security. He also accused Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill of engaging in endless debates “about how many angels on the head of a pin from people who’ve never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position.”
Christie did have a misstep when he discussed his plan to talk with King Hussein of Jordan, who died in 1999 and has been replaced by King Abdullah II. A Christie strategist told MSNBC that the governor misspoke, adding the GOPer knows Abdullah personally.