Christie Dismisses Climate Change Question from NBC's Lauer as 'Distraction,' 'Esoteric Theory'

In an interview with Chris Christie on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer grilled the New Jersey Governor on his skepticism that man-made climate change caused Superstorm Sandy: "You said you don't think there's been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change. Several experts I've heard from say the destruction, though, from Sandy, was probably more severe because of elements of climate change, including rising sea levels." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Lauer began to ask: "Are you not willing to say that's from-" Christie cut him off: "No, I'm not....this is their business, they study it, and they say, 'probably,' 'maybe.' All I said was, I haven't been shown any definitive proof yet that that's what caused it. And this is just – listen, this is distraction. I've got a place to rebuild here and people want to talk to me about esoteric theories."

Christie added: "I'm not gonna buy things, you know, out of whole cloth, Matt, I'm just not going to, especially when they won't definitively say anything and it's their business."

Earlier in the exchange, Lauer went after efforts to keep pork barrel government spending out of disaster relief legislation:

You saw what happened down in Oklahoma on Monday, that devastating tornado that damaged so many homes. You have already come out and said you will support any amount of federal aid that the President decides is necessary to help those people recover. Would the fiscally conservative Chris Christie make that comment had he not gone through Superstorm Sandy?

Christie replied: "I did, yeah. I mean, listen, I think emergencies are a totally different thing."

On Wednesday, Lauer similarly used the Oklahoma tornado to hit the GOP, praising Congressman Tom Cole for supporting a pork-laden Sandy relief bill, "something that a lot of your Republican colleagues did not do."


Here is a portion of Lauer's May 24 exchange with Christie:

7:17AM ET

(...)

MATT LAUER: You saw what happened down in Oklahoma on Monday, that devastating tornado that damaged so many homes. You have already come out and said you will support any amount of federal aid that the President decides is necessary to help those people recover. Would the fiscally conservative Chris Christie make that comment had he not gone through Superstorm Sandy?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I did, yeah. I mean, listen, I think emergencies are a totally different thing. Americans help other Americans when we're in trouble and that's always been what this country has been about and that's what we need to do now. Matt, you know, we never, you know, support irresponsible spending. That's why I said everything that's necessary to help them, absolutely, and we should be doing it quickly.

LAUER: So much was made of the President visiting you here shortly after the storm, he's coming back on Tuesday to look at the recovery, where it stands. And I know that's good for the state of New Jersey, but do you ever worry that another visit and more images of you two walking along the boardwalk, will cook your personal political goose?

CHRISTIE: No, because I think what people in my state want more than anything else is for me to do my job. And the President wants to come back here and see the progress and look at it himself, I never worry about that stuff. I worry about doing my job.

LAUER: But if I'm the guy who's worried about 2016 and what you may or may not do? I might think, if he wants to see recovery, tweet him some photos.

CHRISTIE: Yeah, no. You know, the bottom line is you can't experience it as you're experiencing it right now unless you're here and you see it for yourself. And the fact of the matter is, he's the President of the United States, if he wants to come here and see the people of New Jersey, I'm the governor, I'll be here to welcome him.

LAUER: And I'm sure you heard yesterday, the National Hurricane Center released its outlook for this summer's hurricane season, it's forecasting an extremely active season, with three to six major storms of at least Category 3 along this area. How worried are you about that as a governor of a country – of a state that has so much exposed shoreline?

CHRISTIE: Listen, of course you're always worried. But I think we gave at the office last year, you know? So I think...

LAUER: You think you'll get a pass this year?

CHRISTIE: ...I think it'll bypass us this time. Yup. I think any hurricanes will bypass us this year. But we'll be ready, as we were last year, if something happens, but I – of course we're concerned.

LAUER: Earlier this week you said you don't think there's been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change. Several experts I've heard from say the destruction, though, from Sandy, was probably more severe because of elements of climate change, including rising sea levels. Are you not willing to say that's from-

CHRISTIE: No, I'm not. Because what did they say? First of all, they – this is their business, they study it, and they say, "probably," "maybe." All I said was, I haven't been shown any definitive proof yet that that's what caused it. And this is just – listen, this is distraction. I've got a place to rebuild here and people want to talk to me about esoteric theories. We've got plenty of time to do that later on and study that and let me be more informed about it. But no, I'm not gonna buy things, you know, out of whole cloth, Matt, I'm just not going to, especially when they won't definitively say anything and it's their business.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC