Chris Christie gifted Zelensky handwritten Jon Bon Jovi lyrics

Former New Jersey governor visited Ukraine in surprise visit as he mounts presidential bid

John Bowden
Washington DC
Monday 07 August 2023 20:32 BST
Volodymyr Zelensky meets with GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie in Kyiv

Chris Christie presented Ukraine’s president with a uniquely New Jersey-themed gift when he arrived last week on a surprise visit that aimed to draw a line between the candidate and other Republicans in his party who have resisted calls to aid Ukraine’s military.

Mr Christie presented Volodymyr Zelensky with handwritten lyrics to It’s My Life from Jon Bon Jovi, the song’s author. The gift was a gesture in recognition and admiration of a now-viral group of videos shot by residents of Odessa, Ukraine depicting civilians assisting with preparation for a Russian attack while a band plays the song for them nearby.

An official with Ukraine’s foreign ministry first tweeted a video of siege preparation in March, urging supporters of Ukraine to tag Bon Jovi in the hopes that the bandleader would see.

The videos were viewed millions of times and were soon celebrated by the band itself:

“[The song] served as an inspiration for a lot of the citizens in Odessa, as they were preparing for the invasion by the Russians,” Mr Christie said during a CNN interview.

“Jon wrote it out in his own hand, got it framed, and I brought it to President Zelensky,” he continued, adding that he told the Ukrainian leader that the song was also “representative of many of the American people and what they feel about the cause that’s being fought for in Ukraine.”

Jon Bon Jovi’s personal political leanings are thought to be more towards the left — he has campaigned with a handful of Democratic politicians throughout the years, including Joe Biden in 2020. But his band is known to have given Mr Christie, formerly the governor of New Jersey, approval to use the Jerey-borne group’s music on the campaign trail.

Mr Christie’s visit comes as Republican opposition to further military aid to Ukraine continues to bubble, particularly among the far-right. The ex-governor and others who find themselves aligned with the GOP and Washington foreign policy establishments have resisted those inclinations with public shows of support for Ukraine and Mr Zelensky.

One of Mr Christie’s rivals for the GOP nomination, Mike Pence, visited Ukraine and met with Mr Zelensky in late June as Kyiv has become a sort of de facto campaign stop in the 2024 US presidential race.

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