Perhaps it was his new Tattoo, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cannot understand why so many members of the GOP are angry with him since the election. According to a report in the NY Times, Christie’s standing in the party is greatly diminished since the election. The reason was his slobbering, gushing treatment of Barack Obama which some people believe slowed Romney’s momentum and turned the election around for president Obama.
But behind the scenes, the intensity of the reaction from those in Mr. Christie’s party caught him by surprise, interviews show, requiring a rising Republican star to try to contain a tempest that left him feeling deeply misunderstood and wounded.
The governor, who had spent days delivering bear hugs and words of sympathy to shellshocked residents, resented the pressure to choose between the state he loves with fervent, Springsteen-fueled ferocity and his future as a leader in the Republican Party.
In New Jersey, Mr. Christie’s politics-be-damned approach to the storm seemed to represent a moment of high-minded crisis management for a governor frequently defined by his public diatribes and tantrums. Mr. Christie locked arms with Mr. Obama, flew with him on Marine One, talked with him daily and went out of his way to praise him publicly as “outstanding,” “incredibly supportive” and worthy of “great credit.”
But in the days after the storm, Mr. Christie and his advisers were startled to hear from out-of-state donors to Mr. Romney, who had little interest in the hurricane and viewed him solely as a campaign surrogate, demanding to know why he had stood so close to the president on a tarmac. One of them questioned why he had boarded Mr. Obama’s helicopter, according to people briefed on the conversations.
Funny how the Democratic Party Governors and NYC Mayor Bloomberg were able to avoid the Obama visit, but then again they didn’t just get this new tattoo like Christie did.
The tensions followed Mr. Christie to the annual meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Las Vegas last week. At a gathering where he had expected to be celebrated, Mr. Christie was repeatedly reminded of how deeply he had offended fellow Republicans.
“I will not apologize for doing my job,” he emphatically told one of them in a hotel hallway at the ornate Wynn Resort.
His willingness to work closely with the president has cast a shadow over Mr. Christie’s prospects as a national candidate, prompting a number of Republicans to wonder aloud whether he is a reliable party leader.
“It hurt him a lot,” said Douglas E. Gross, a longtime Republican operative in Iowa who has overseen several presidential campaigns in the state. “The presumption is that Republicans can’t count on him.”
Republican voters in Iowa, the first state to select presidential candidates, “don’t forget things like this,” Mr. Gross said.
With Mr. Romney’s loss still an open sore, Mr. Christie’s conduct remains a topic of widespread discussion in the party.
“People keep asking me why you were so nice to the president,” Governor-elect Pat McCrory of North Carolina told Mr. Christie when they encountered each other beneath a gem-studded chandelier at the hotel.
And the Romney Campaign is totally outraged.
Inside the Romney campaign, there is little doubt that Mr. Christie’s expressions of admiration for the president, coupled with ubiquitous news coverage of the hurricane’s aftermath, raised Mr. Obama’s standing at a crucial moment.
During a lengthy autopsy of their campaign, Mr. Romney’s political advisers pored over data showing that an unusually large number of voters who remained undecided until the end of the campaign backed Mr. Obama. Many of them cited the storm as a major factor in their decision, according to a person involved in the discussion.
“Christie,” a Romney adviser said, “allowed Obama to be president, not a politician.”
I don’t know if Christie’s slobbering embrace of Obama changed the outcome of the election but based on Obama embrace and his convention keynote speech which was all about Christie the feeling is that the New Jersey Governor is only out for himself. And that will hurt him if he decides to through his hat into the ring in 2016.