Schumer wields Christie against the far right, condemns him for ARC

The shelved ARC tunnel project. ()
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Sen. Chuck Schumer praised Chris Christie today as a Republican capable of compromise.

"I've worked in two areas with Governor Christie very recently and worked very well, and found him a person who understands the need to compromise: the Sandy aid, where he was a real partner, and on immigration, where we needed the vote of the Jersey senator who he appointed," said Schumer after a press conference at Grand Central this afternoon.

Christie appointed Jeff Chiesa to fill the vacant seat of the late senator Frank Lautenberg last year, and Chiesa's vote on immigration was widely seen as a proxy for Christie on an issue that divided Republicans.

"I called him regularly on it," Schumer said of Christie. "In fact, we had each other's cell phone numbers, and the guy voted for it. Chiesa voted with it."



Chiesa said at the time that Christie's only advice to him was to "do what you think is right." Christie has supported a path to citizenship in the past, but he was evasive on the particulars yesterday, during an extended victory lap to promote his brand of bipartisanship as a model for how Republican can win national elections.

Schumer, who regularly expresses sympathy for mainstream Republicans as a means of highlighting the influence of the Tea Party wing, also said, "You know, I think that Christie's style of politics—which is you have firm beliefs, but you gotta meet people part of the way, you can't just say 'it's my way or no way' like the Tea Party does—is better substantively, but also ultimately better politically."

Schumer said there were some issues where he "vehemently disagreed" with Christie, especially the governor's 2010 decision to pull out of New Jersey's commitment to the ARC tunnel project, which would have doubled the number of trains that could pass under the Hudson River.

"One of the worst decisions that any governmental leader has made in the 20th century, or the 21st century—both, in the last 100 years—is to get rid of the ARC," Schumer said.