New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (L) is sworn in by Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court Stuart Rabner for his second term on January 21, 2014 at the War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie began a second term Tuesday battling a scandal over partisan politics, while using his inaugural address to remind voters of the unified support that gave him a landslide re-election.
"It wasn't just some of our people who affirmed this course," Christie said at the War Memorial in Trenton. "It was not a vocal plurality like four years ago. No, this time, it was the largest and loudest voice of affirmation that the people of our state has given to any direction in three decades."
Without making reference to traffic jams on a busy bridge or the allegations of abuse of power, the Republican sounded familiar themes of bipartisanship and unity that he used repeatedly to defeat Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono in November.
His plans to celebrate his inauguration, however, with a reception at Ellis Island was scuttled by weather "out of an abundance of caution" for the guests.
Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, also touched on income inequality, the role of limited government and divisions that threaten progress in the Garden State.
"One of the lessons that I have learned most acutely over the last four years is that New Jersey can really be one state. This election has taught us that the ways we divide each other - by race, by class, by ethnicity, by wealth, by political party - is neither permanent nor necessary," Christie said. "We have to be willing to play outside the red and blue boxes the media and pundits put us in. We have to be willing to reach out to others who look or speak differently than us."
Christie vowed once again that New Jersey will not become like Washington, where partisanship and bickering have come to define Congress.
"We cannot fall victim to the attitude of Washington, D.C. The attitude that says I am always right and you are always wrong. The attitude that puts political wins ahead of policy agreements. The belief that compromise is a dirty word," Christie said.
He promised "to make the hard decisions, to raise the uncomfortable topics, to be willing to stand hard when principles are being violated and to be willing to compromise to find common ground with all of our people."
Christie defeated Buono by 22 percentage points, in part by racking up huge margins with women and minorities - two groups that the GOP has struggled to win over.
But the governor and his administration are being put to their toughest political test since Christie first took office in 2010.
Copies of e-mails released earlier this month show Christie aides and appointees apparently participated in a scheme to close access lanes on the George Washington Bridge and snarl traffic in Fort Lee as a way to punish the town's Democratic mayor, who declined to endorse the governor's re-election bid.
Christie denied he had knowledge of the plot, and fired a top aide and cut ties with a political strategist whose e-mails detailed their involvement. Two committees formed by the New Jersey state Assembly and Senate to investigate the lane closures will merge into one.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno pushed back Monday on allegations by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, a Democrat, that Hoboken was denied Sandy recovery money because Zimmer didn't support a real estate development favored by Christie.
A new poll by USA TODAY/Pew Research Center shows that nearly 6 in 10 Americans who are aware of the bridge scandal said they doubted Christie's denials about the traffic jam plot. About one-third, or 32%, said they believed Christie was unaware of his staff's actions.
Christie's second inauguration began Tuesday morning with a prayer service in Newark.
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