A couple of months ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke with Republican donors in South Florida, and delivered a fairly specific message: be wary of presidential hopefuls who’ve flip-flopped on important issues.
Given the reputation Christie has created for himself, the rhetoric didn’t come as too big of a surprise. The New Jersey Republican wants to be seen as a tough, no-nonsense guy, so while other candidates start adding nuance to their finessed positions, the governor’s rock-solid consistency is an important selling point.
In the two months since that exclusive donor retreat, however, Chris Christie changed course rather dramatically on immigration. And guns. And now Common Core. MSNBC’s Aliyah Frumin reported yesterday:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – who once supported the controversial, national Common Core education standards, unpopular among many conservative Republicans – declared on Thursday that the program is “simply not working.” […]Christie called on Department of Education Commissioner David Hespe to assemble a group of parents, teachers and educators to develop new education standards for consideration in New Jersey and “not 200 miles away on the banks of the Potomac River.” Critics contend the set of academic guidelines adopted by 46 states since being introduced in 2010 by the National Governors Association, amounts to too much federal government interference on what should be a local issue.
Christie appears to have come to this realization quite recently. NJ.com published an interesting timeline this morning, highlighting the governor’s “evolution” on the issue, starting in September 2011, when Christie thought education standards crafted “200 miles away” were a great idea.
As recently as August 2013, the GOP governor insisted, “We’re doing Common Core in New Jersey, and we are going to continue.” Christie acknowledged opposition from congressional Republicans, but he said his party was guilty of a “knee-jerk reaction,” opposing something because President Obama supports it.
The differences, Christie added, were the results of some partisan “war” that he wanted no part of.
That was less than two years ago. Now, all of a sudden, Christie is worried about his presidential ambitions, and wouldn’t you know it, the Garden State governor has decided the “knee-jerk reaction” was the right one after all.
That this brings Christie closer to his party’s far-right base in advance of his national campaign is, of course, purely a coincidence.
For context, it’s worth emphasizing that the New Jersey Republican isn’t the only presidential candidate to reverse course on these education standards. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) was an enthusiastic proponent of Common Core, right up until he realized how much right-wing activists hated the standards, at which point he did a quick, 180-degree turn, even suing the Obama administration in some silly attempt to prove how much he hates the standards he supported.
But Christie’s case is arguably worse because he’s the one who ran around warning donors about the dangers of presidential candidates who flip-flop, which he seemed to believe, right before engaging in some rigorous flip-flopping of his own.