By Matt Friedman | July 1st, 2009 - 3:22pm
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President Obama’s planned trip to New Jersey later this month gave Governor Corzine a fresh opportunity to tie his campaign to the popular president today.

“[Obama] is a friend. He said it publicly.  He thinks that what we are doing on a lot of issues is exactly what he is trying to bring to bear in the country at large,” said Corzine this afternoon as he was walking out of Jersey City Jerramiah Healy’s swearing in ceremony.

Healy, who unlike Corzine was an early Obama supporter, brought up his “friend at 1,600 Pennsylvania Avenue” countless times during the campaign.  But in making the connection, the Mayor had to settle for two-year-old footage of him and the then-Senator from Illinois at a campaign stop in Jersey City.  Now it is Corzine’s turn to hitch his campaign to Obama, who in a poll released this morning had a 61% approval rating in New Jersey (Corzine’s is 36%).  And because of the higher profile nature of the gubernatorial race – and perhaps also because the outcome will rightly or wrongly be interpreted as a referendum on Obama – Corzine gets the president in person.  

Corzine said that the selection of former Corzine cabinet official Lisa Jackson to become EPA Administrator shows that he and Obama are on the same page.

“It’s no mistake that the only commissioner of a state agency that went from the state to his cabinet happens to be Lisa Jackson from our Department of Environmental Protection,” he said.  “I think we have much alignment, so I think the president speaking to the same values and policies will be a good thing.  

When asked about his consistent lag in the polls against Christie, Corzine noted that this morning’s Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll that showed him six points behind Christie “actually narrowed” before blowing it off by saying “the only poll that counts is in November.”

Corzine also criticized Christie for his position against new gun control legislation, which includes a bill limiting hand gun purchases to one per month.

“It is vital that we do everything we can to promote public safety. It’s an obvious place of contrast between myself and my opponent in the gubernatorial election, where he has come out against a very simple concept: whether one should be able to buy more than one handgun a month.  It seems like common sense when you’re trying to control gun violence,” he said.

Christie senior advisor Maria Comella responded by burnishing Christie's record on guns as U.S. Attorney. 

"No amount of election year stunts will change the fact that the rate of violent crimes, murders and aggravated assaults in New  Jersey compared to other states is on the rise.  Legislation designed to achieve headlines instead of substance will not solve our state's crime problem, and no one knows that better than Chris Christie who tackled violent crimes head on as US Attorney, prosecuting over 1,000 gun cases," she said in a statement.  "Chris' tough approach resulted in more violent offenders behind bars and it's the exact same approach he'll take as governor to ensure New Jersey's gun laws are aggressively enforced and criminals held accountable for their actions."

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