New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addressed the bridge scandal at the start of his State of the State address Tuesday, declaring to New Jerseyans that the much-discussed scandal “does not define us or our state.”
“The last week has certainly tested this administration,” Christie began his speech. “Mistakes were clearly made. And, as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted to serve.”
“I know our citizens deserve better. Much better,” he said.
Christie took responsibility for the effort in which top aides conspired to close off several lanes on the George Washington Bridge, potentially in retaliation against the Mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie’s re-election. The move gridlocked Fort Lee, stranding school buses and emergency vehicles alike in jams that lasted hours. Christie, last week, claimed he had no knowledge of the plan.
“I am the governor and I am ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch — both good and bad,” he said. “And without a doubt we will cooperate with all appropriate inquiries to ensure that this breach of trust does not happen again.”
“But I also want to assure the people of New Jersey today that what has occurred does not define us or our state,” he went on. “This administration and this legislature will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the people’s lives in New Jersey to be delayed for any reason.”
“I am the leader of this state and its people and I stand here today proud to be both. And always determined to do better,” Christie said, before moving on to the intended topic of the speech: the state of the state of New Jersey.
Christie is facing intense scrutiny over the bridge lane closure, which threatens to harm his expected presidential bid in 2016.