New York Times reporter Richard Perez-Pena followed Gov. Chris Christie to the unlikely grounds of Cambridge, Mass., to hear the governor talk about education reform for Saturday’s "A Warm Welcome for Christie at a Liberal Bastion."
Perez-Pena’s reporting has been hostile toward the often-audacious Republican governor of New Jersey, and he appeared taken aback by Christie’s positive Harvard reception:
Conservatives may see Harvard as the heart of liberal darkness, but on Friday it gave a warm, even enthusiastic reception to Gov. Chris Christie and his ideas on education overhaul.
Speaking to almost 200 students and staff members at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the New Jersey governor drew rounds of applause with his talk of sharply limiting teacher tenure, rigorously evaluating teachers and administrators, curbing the power of teachers' unions and pledging to appoint more-conservative justices to the State Supreme Court.
Mr. Christie's first ovation came when he said, "The reason I'm engaging in this battle with the teachers' union is because it's the only fight worth having."
The ground he covered would be familiar to anyone who has watched the town hall-style forums in New Jersey that have made Mr. Christie a YouTube star. There, at least a few detractors usually show up to question him, and his policies and pugnacious statements can make even some supporters uncomfortable.
This marks the second time in five days that a Times reporter has accused a mainstream Republican politician of employing “incendiary” language, a strong term the Times rarely if ever uses when talking of statements by inflammatory Democratic politicians like Rev. Al Sharpton or the defeated Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida.
The tone of the session was polite and subdued, and the questions alternately supportive and wonkish. More than usual, Mr. Christie stayed away from incendiary language, though toward the end he loosened up and opened fire on the teachers' union ("a political thuggery operation").