- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pushed back Thursday against the notion that he changed his position on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, saying that when he voiced opposition before, it was an issue of cost, and he has always supported the underlying principle.

Mr. Christie, who is running for re-election and is thought to be pondering a White House run in 2016, told reporters on his way out of a campaign stop that “tuition equality is where I always was.”

“It was a budget priority, I have said that from the beginning,” the Republican said.

Matt Farrauto, spokesman for the New Jersey Democratic Committee, said that Mr. Christie has been all over the map on a slew of issues, including in-state tuition.

“Fits a pattern of flip-flopping, ambiguity, and evasiveness — more of his help-yourself smorgasbord of political beliefs and brashly talking out of both sides of his mouth,” Mr. Farrauto said. “On the Dream Act and marriage equality, he’s had deathbed conversions — conceding tepid support after stubbornly standing in the way of progress.”

Mr. Christie is on the second day of a scheduled weeklong bus tour that marks the final push of his re-election campaign against Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono, who supports in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants.

The two will face off Tuesday in the election.

Mr. Christie previously had opposed the federal Dream Act, which would have legalized illegal immigrant students and made them eligible nationwide for in-state tuition.

Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in 2011, Mr. Christie was showered with applause when he said, “I do not believe that for those people who came here illegally that we should be subsidizing with taxpayer money through in-state tuition their education.”

“Let me be very clear from my perspective — that is not a heartless position, that is a commonsense position,” he told the audience.

But in a keynote address at the 2013 Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey annual gala earlier this month, Mr. Christie changed his tune, saying that the state has an obligation to make sure that children have a better future.

“We need to get to work in the state Legislature on things like making sure that there’s tuition equality for everybody in New Jersey,” Mr. Christie said, sparking applause from the crowd.

The New Jersey Legislature could consider legislation before the end of the year that allows illegal immigrants to pay the same tuition at public colleges and universities as any other in-state resident.

Some have suggested that Mr. Christie moved on the issue in order to woo Hispanic voters and drive up his margin of victory the gubernatorial race in hopes of bolstering his stock as he gears up to run for the Republican nomination for president.

Others have said that his stance will not sit well with the grass-roots conservatives and tea party activists who play such a key role in the nomination contest.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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