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Gov. Chris Christie, Barbara Buono Face Off In Debate

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Chris May is anchor of CBS 3’s Eyewitness News at 5, 6 an...
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The candidates for New Jersey Governor went head to head for the first time Tuesday night.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democrat Barbara Buono squared off at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, the first of two televised debates.

CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson moderated the debate. Also on the panel were CBS 3 Anchor Chris May, Alfred Doblin of The Record newspaper, and John Schoonejongen of the Asbury Park Press.

Both candidates came out swinging on New Jersey property taxes.

“I will never balance my budget on the backs of the middle class and the working poor,” Buono said.

“I had to balance her budget when I came in in 2010,” Christie said.

Todd Quinones reports…

CBS 3’s Chris May asked about the minimum wage.

The Governor vetoed legislation to raise the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, saying the voters should decide.

“But there are a lot of people including some students in our audience or maybe even older New Jerseyans who are having to go back to work after retirement that they believe they still can’t make a living even off $8.25 an hour.  What would you say to them Sen. Buono?” May asked.

“We live in the highest, one of the highest cost of living states in the nation. This is a starvation wage,” Buono said.

“The money doesn’t come off a magic money tree, Chris. It’s from hard work of small businesses,” Christie said.

Buono took a shot at Christie over his business tax credits. She says the New Jersey economy is still suffering.

“He points to his predecessor, he points to Democrats. And the point is you have to man up, Governor. You’ve been in office for four years,” Buono said.

“Every one of the tax credit plans that we’ve implemented? She voted for. So apparently she was for it before she was against it. And we’ve heard that before haven’t we?” Christie said.

WATCH: WEB EXTRA: 2013 New Jersey Gubernatorial Debate

On the subject of same-sex marriage — Governor Christie says the voters should get a vote.

“I don’t think that should be decided by 121 politicians in Trenton or seven justices on the Supreme Court,” Christie said.

Senator Buono told the audience her daughter is gay.

“It’s a human right. I mean, have the courage — show a profile in courage and do the right thing for our sons and daughters,” Buono said.

Christie wouldn’t confirm or deny he would run for President even if he wins a second term as Governor.

“I can walk and chew gum at the same time, Kristine. I can do this job and also deal with my future,” Christie said.

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