Three years ago, Governor Christie dismissed the idea of signing a pledge that he would never raise taxes. He insisted that his own record of vetoing income and corporate tax hikes spoke for itself.
“I made a pledge to the people of the state not to,” Christie said in Asbury Park that August. “I don’t need to make a pledge to anybody else.”
Presidential candidate Christie had a change of heart Wednesday, signing the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge for the American People” promising that he would oppose and veto any tax increase if he is elected president. Then, with the zeal of the newly converted, he lashed out at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for refusing to sign on the same dotted line.
“Well, if your record stands on its own, there’s no reason not to take the pledge,” Christie said during a radio interview with conservative activist Laura Ingraham. “I wonder why Governor Bush won’t sign the pledge. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Why Christie decided to participate in an election-season rite he once disdained is the more intriguing question. On one level, it was a safe move — signing the pledge removed the threat of being vilified on the campaign trail by Americans for Tax Reform, the conservative group led by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.
But Christie’s embrace of the pledge — and his use of it as a campaign cudgel to pound at Bush — also reflects a Republican presidential candidate struggling to claw his way out of the cellar of long shots and their single-digit levels of support.
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