"He's always talked about the importance of choice," she said. Though she wishes he would "stay strong" on the issue and fully endorse a parent's right to choose whether to vaccinate, she said the governor has been "very cognizant" of parents' concerns. With Christie's Monday comments causing something of a furor, that's likely not the kind of political image Christie wants to have right now. But it reflects what the governor has said in the past.
In 2009, after then-New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine mandated flu shots for young children and infants in preschool and day care, Christie expressed solidarity with the anti-vaccine movement, which seeks to shed light on the dangerous side effects of vaccinations—many of which aren't scientifically proven.
"Listen, I have real concern about a lot of these mandates," he told radio talk-show host Don Imus that October, just before winning his first election as governor. "I think, you know, in New Jersey, we need to take a whole look at that. Now, it's a real tough choice between protecting public health with vaccinations, but I have sat with a lot of these parents of children with autism who absolutely firmly believe that it was vaccinations that caused these problems in their children. And then they have additional children, and they are being required to go in there and go through that again, when they, in their hearts and in their minds, believe that this was the contributing factor to their children's condition."
He said that parents concerned about the side effects of vaccinations need to have "a seat at the table to talk about how we deal with these things."
"It's a complicated public health issue," he told Imus. "I understand that, but I do believe that these parents need a voice in these debates."
And in a letter he wrote while running for governor in 2009, dug up Monday by The Daily Beast, he noted the "incredible grace and courage" of families he'd met who have been "affected by autism."
"Many of these families have expressed their concern over New Jersey's highest-in-the-nation vaccine mandates," Christie wrote. "I stand with them now, and will stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children."
Last year, Christie used a "pocket veto" to kill a bill that would have required health care workers in the state to get annual flu shots or sign a waiver declining them. Rather than signing off on a veto, he let the bill expire, and it was automatically vetoed at the end of the legislative session.
But in controlling another deadly disease last year, Christie seemed not to be as concerned about "balance." As hysteria over the spread of Ebola grew last fall, he led the charge to protect New Jersey from the virus—despite overwhelming scientific evidence that it's incredibly difficult to contract.