TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Gov. Chris Christie spent part of Sunday lounging with his family on a beach at a state park he ordered closed to the public amid a government shutdown that showed little sign of ending.
The unpopular Republican governor, whose family was using the state residence at Island Beach State Park for the weekend, said later Sunday at a news conference in Trenton that he flew on a state helicopter to the residence.
“That’s where my family is sleeping so that’s where I’ll sleep,” he said. “When I have a choice between sleeping with my family or sleeping alone, I generally like to sleep where my family is.”
The governor was photographed by NJ.com sitting with his family on a beach chair in sandals and a T-shirt before flying to talk to reporters in Trenton, where he worked without result to end the shutdown.
During the news conference, Christie was questioned about his day at the beach.
“We’re talking about the closure of government,” Christie said, “and you’re taking about your TMZ stuff.”
The governor was asked if he had gotten any sun that day, to which he said he didn’t, NJ.com reported. The governor’s spokesman agreed that Christie didn’t get any sun; he said Christie was wearing a baseball hat.
Christie defended his use of the state property during the shutdown that affected the public, which is being kept out of state parks with signs blaming Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, on Saturday, saying: “That’s the way it goes. Run for governor, and you can have the residence.”
The pictures of Christie and his family soaking in the sun were drawing a lot of heat from New Jersey residents.
“This sealed the deal for me,” said Ben from Cherry Hill. “I mean, he doesn’t care, this is his last year. He’s on his way out the door. Lame duck as they say.”
“That’s not right,” said another resident, “since he’s the one behind shutting everything down.”
Over the weekend, the public began feeling the effects of the shutdown.
Among those affected were Cub Scouts forced to leave a state park campsite and people trying to obtain or renew documents from the state motor vehicle commission.
Remaining open under the shutdown are New Jersey Transit, state prisons, the state police, state hospitals and treatment centers as well as casinos, race tracks and the lottery.
Liberty State Park was closed, forcing the suspension of ticket sales and ferry service from the site to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. But the latter two sites remained open.
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