NJ Governor Chris Christie Apologizes for Remarks on Civil Rights

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who faced criticism over remarks he made last week after calling for a voter referendum on same-sex marriage, in which he suggested African-Americans pursuing their civil rights would have wanted a voter referendum, apologized yesterday on a radio show.

NJ.com reports:

Christie“Anybody who was offended by what I said, if you’re listening out there tonight, I apologize for that,” he said on New Jersey 101.5’s monthly radio call-in show. “I didn’t mean to offend anybody, and if I did I’m sorry.”

Politico has more:

"I also recognize that my job, one of my jobs as Governor, is to clearly communicate to people what I’m thinking, every time I open my mouth. And I try to be very good about being very direct about what I say so that there’s no ambiguity but obviously when I was talking last week at the town hall meeting about the civil rights movement in the South, I wasn’t clear enough. I just wasn’t.

"And what I did was, by saying those things, I left them open to misinterpretation and obviously there are some folks out there whose feelings I hurt or sensibilities I offended. And I apologize for that, because that’s my job. My job is to clearly communicate all the time. And so to those folks out there who were somehow offended or concerned about the ambiguity in my statement, I apologize for that because very clearly what I was trying to say, I said yesterday at the press conference about 5 or 6 times."

NJ.com adds:

The apology immediately sparked this statement from Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex): "The governor rightfully acknowledged the hurtful and insensitive nature of his remarks. Going forward, I now trust and expect that, as the legislature moves toward implementing marriage equality, the governor will respect the serious nature of the constitutionality of civil rights and equal protection under the law."

Christie also commented on his use of the term "numb nuts" to describe openly gay Assemblyman Reed Gusciora:

“I thought it was a pretty light slap at a guy (Gusciora) who compared me to George Wallace and Lester Maddox – who were two absolutely vile people in the political history of our country…I am not a scripted politician and so sometimes I am going to use an adjective that you don’t like – let me tell you, there’s a lot of other adjectives that I could have used that would have been a lot less appropriate…my Chief of Staff says he wants to sit down with me – and I’m happy to sit down with Reed – we worked together on medical marijuana when there was all kinds of blocks in the Legislature on it- and worked well together…I’ll always sit down and talk with Reed – Reed’s a good guy- but I think he was out of control on this issue…I think what he said was stupid.”