The consensus among many in the large crowd that turned out to see ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Lake Sumter Landing was simple and direct: He should be serving as President Trump’s attorney general.
“The past two years would have been so much better had he been sitting in that office instead of (Jeff) Sessions,” said Phyllis Cobianchi, of the Village of Hadley, speaking of the former attorney general.
“I think if he was our AG, this country would be a lot further ahead than it is, although we are making good strides,” said Steve Simpson, of Ocala, whose girlfriend, Kristine Waken, surprised him with the visit to The Villages to see Christie in person.
Christie was in The Villages to sign copies of his newest book, “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.” The book promises to deliver a “no-holds-barred” account of his rise to power in New Jersey and his insights on the president’s inner circle throughout the 2016 election cycle.
It was safe to call Saturday’s crowd an adoring one, and Christie took his time with each person who brought their book before him. But in the audience, the conversation remained centered on the fact that many believed he should be playing a significant role in the Trump administration.
Villager Vincent Macri, who attended the book-signing event with his wife, Sonja, said he told Christie under no uncertain terms that he wished he held the attorney general post.
“Jeff Sessions screwed up big time,” Macri said. “We’ve got this investigation that’s going on for two years and there’s nothing,” the Village of Bonita resident added, speaking of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into the possibility of the Russian government interfering in the 2016 presidential election and any connections that might exist between President Trump and the Russians.
Macri added that Christie brings to the table something that’s very important to have in government officials.
“This guy’s tough,” he said. “That’s what we need in this country.”
Tom Cobianchi, of the Village of Hadley, said he’s been a huge fan of Christie for many years and he believes he would have brought a lot of great attributes to the role of attorney general.
“A lot of positive things would have happened,” he said. “I think he would have been fair and honest and I think he would have applied the law as the law is meant to be in the Constitution.”
Gina Bennis, a Virginia Beach native who is hoping to move to the Village of Sabal Chase in the near future, said she believes Christie eventually will hold the position as chief lawyer of the federal government and head of the Department of Justice.
“He will be attorney general in 2020 when Trump is re-elected,” she said. “He’s an outspoken conservative, an attorney and he’s very smart. And he’s from New Jersey, so nobody’s going to mess with him.”
Frank Travea, of the Village of Pennecamp, said he’d like to have seen Christie in a higher role in the Trump administration.
“He was a great governor and should have been the vice president,” he said.
Karen Travea added that she had admired Christie for quite some time.
“He did a lot for the state,” she said of New Jersey, where the couple lived for 65 years before retiring to The Villages. “He gets things done.”
Christie’s book-signing event on Saturday afternoon marked the end of a three-week tour promoting his newest work. He said he was overwhelmed by the crowd of several hundred fans who waited in line to share a moment with him.
“I’m just so gratified,” he said. “People were so extraordinarily nice. And a lot of them had already read the book, which was great to be able to chat with them about that when I was signing it.”
As for the suggestion by so many that Christie should be attorney general, he let out a laugh and offered his own thoughts very quickly.
“I agree with them,” he said. “And if I had been, there would be no Bob Mueller. I can guarantee that. I would have taken charge of it, not anybody else.”
Christie also offered praise for The Villages and the people from all over the world who call the massive retirement community home.
“It’s an amazing place and I’ve heard about it for years,” he said. “This is my first time here and I’m really glad. There’s wonderful people here – really wonderful.”
After he was finished signing books, Christie hinted that another one might be coming in the future. And he also offered some insight into the possibility of another trip to Florida’s Friendliest Hometown in the future.
“This is not the last time, for certain,” he said.
Christie became one of many high-profile authors to visit the Lake Sumter Landing Barnes & Noble in the past year. The others include U.S. Rep Steve Scalise; popular Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson; “Fox and Friends” co-host Steve Doocy and his wife, Kathy; former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer; Fox News personality Greg Gutfeld and Bret Baier, Fox News’ chief political anchor.
Baier, who hosts “Special Report with Bret Baier” and is recovering from injuries received in a recent car crash while vacationing in Montana, is no stranger to The Villages, as his aunt, Kathy Scarito, lives in the Village of Sunset Pointe.
Also, on April 3 at 2 p.m., Elisabeth Hasselbeck, known to viewers worldwide for her roles on “The View” and “Fox & Friends,” will be at Barnes & Noble to sign copies of her new book, “Point of View: A Fresh Look at Work, Faith, and Freedom.”