Chris Christie to college students: It would be morally "wrong" for you not to go into debt for your education

Could he have chosen an audience less likely to be receptive to his message than college students?

Published June 11, 2015 6:28PM (EDT)

New Jersey Governor and GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie made a bold decision today, using a speech at Iowa State University to declare that the idea of debt-free college is morally "wrong," Politico's Allie Grasgreen reports.

Christie introduced the idea by harkening back to his father, a Army veteran who attended Rutgers thanks to the G.I. Bill, and said that if he became president he would install "a system where we all need to take personal responsibility to grasp the opportunities in higher education, but also one where we can get a leg up when we need it."

That leg up would, however, still entail racking up crippling debt, because "if college graduates are going to reap the greater economic rewards and opportunities of earning a degree, then it seems fair for them to support the cost of the education they’re receiving."

Debt is, to Christie's mind, a part of the college experience and to suggest otherwise is "a typical liberal approach" and "wrong." Like most Republicans, he would prefer that private individuals would guarantee promising students a chance to attend a institution of higher learning, suggesting tax credits for wealthy donors -- because there's no issue a GOP candidate won't suggest tax cuts will solve.

In the eyes of most pundits, Christie is not a viable presidential candidate, not only on the merits of decisions like this one -- Could he have chosen an audience less likely to be receptive to his message than college students? -- but because he is, in the words of the Guaridan's Jeb Lund, "walking around in a sad tornado of potential indictments, like Pig Pen from Peanuts surrounded by clouds of blue paper left by process servers."

By Scott Eric Kaufman

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