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Spurning Chris Christie, Republicans continue to dig own hole

November 20, 2012

Republicans seem to have no lack of understanding about how badly their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, damaged the party brand by demonizing a good chunk of the electorate as “victims” and “gift” grabbers — the slothful masses who just can’t wait to take a government handout.

The party faithful might also want to reconsider their recent demonization of one of their previous favorites, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, if they hope to recapture the heart of America. And have a better shot in the next presidential election.

The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro reported Tuesday on how the immensely likable, plain-talking governor remains persona non grata among GOP mainstays following the lost presidential election. His crime: suggesting that President Obama performed admirably in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

But this is one of those moments when tried-and-true partisan hackery and the thoughts of average Americans diverge in a big way. The rapprochement between Obama and Christie — who praised the president’s Sandy response as “outstanding,” “incredibly supportive” and a “great credit” to leadership — pleased a lot of ordinary people. Exit polls found that roughly 1 in 4 voters called Obama’s response to the giant storm an “important factor” in their vote. Christie’s warm embrace of the president presumably went a long way toward affirming that Obama acted presidential, not political, during the crisis.

Christie may have been thinking about his own reelection prospects next year against Newark Mayor Cory Booker. So perhaps his motivations were not pure as the waves driven across the Atlantic City boardwalk. But most New Jerseyans will see his work with Obama through a positive lens. They won’t care why the two men worked together, just that they did.

That’s what even the most cynical and fatigued citizens expect political leaders to do during true crises — to put their differences aside (Christie had said not long prior to the storm that Obama flailed desperately to find the “light switch” of leadership) and get things done.

One need only go back to 2005 and the uneven to invisible response to Hurricane Katrina for a model of what Americans won’t abide. FEMA and the federal government, under Republican President George W. Bush, stalled in getting help to the residents of New Orleans.

Louisiana's governor at the time, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat, feuded with Bush. When federal aide arrived, her state moved too slowly to distribute it to its increasingly desperate citizens. Yet evidence emerged that the Republicans in Washington had sought to embarrass the Democrat and that the Bush administration moved more rapidly to help Republican-governed Mississippi.

In short, the Katrina response embarrassed most of those who came anywhere near it. Any politician paying attention should have learned that the overt politicization of tragedy does not amuse the victims. They tend not to forget. Gov. Christie internalized that lesson, especially after he got walloped in the press for being on vacation in Florida when a massive blizzard shut down his state in early 2011.

New Jerseyans surely appreciate that distinction. Republicans nationally would be wise to absorb it, too. The more they spurn their onetime favorite, Christie, the more they look like the party that just lost the last election by focusing on their own and shunning everyone else.

by Anonymousreply 1311/20/2012

Their spurning of Christie is only helping his prospects for reelection.

His handling of the Sandy disaster, his seeming bipartisanship regarding working with the President, and his refusal to make the presidential election an issue during this time have earned him points with non republicans in the state.

by Anonymousreply 111/20/2012

Chris Christie, as much as I don't agree with him on a whole raft of issues, has frequently acted like an adult and done the right thing. His working with Obama after the storm is one. His defense of muslums and the muslum community center in NYC was another.

It's strange that he's attacked by his own when he acts like a sane adult and does the right thing. That says all you need to know about the Republican Party today.

by Anonymousreply 211/20/2012

I wonder if a third party will develop from this fallout...

by Anonymousreply 311/20/2012

Hasn't he long been considered a RINO?

by Anonymousreply 411/20/2012

Ok, I'm putting on my tin hat, but I don't doubt for a second that Chris Christie knew exactly what he was doing. If Obama is re-elected, better for him, he gets to run in 2016 and he looks really good for moderates. He knows his state is voting overwhelmingly for Obama, so why not score a few points with his electorate (re-election for governer, after all he's competing with Superhero, Cory Booker) And I really think he HATES the republican base as well.

by Anonymousreply 511/20/2012

He won't be running if he dies from obesity.

by Anonymousreply 611/20/2012

On one of the news discussion shows, the talking heads discussed the Republicans lining up for 2016. When it came to Christie, someone mentioned that his SNL appearance was so well received because he was comfortable in his own skin. That after months of seeing Romney, who has probably never relaxed in his entire life, it was a great relief to see a Republican act like a fairly normal human being.

by Anonymousreply 711/20/2012

R5, that's not tinhatty, it's just politics. He read Nate Silver's blog and stuck his finger to the breeze. He's not stupid. Just fat. He didn't even do much praising of Obama, he just wasn't a dick. And he's not a RINO, he's very conservative.

by Anonymousreply 811/20/2012

"He didn't even do much praising of Obama, he just wasn't a dick."

That's right, R8. The GOP wanted him to be a dick to the President, and then were disappointed.

by Anonymousreply 911/20/2012

If the repugs honestly believe Christie can lead them out of the wilderness and win the presidency, they (or at least the even relative sane ones) will forget this whole thing.

I bet this whole this is spurred by a couple of people (Sheldon Adelson?) who felt that all repugs should be willing to bow down to Romney on command, even if it's at the expense of their own careers.

by Anonymousreply 1011/20/2012

While it's appropriate to focus on Romneyshambles, why does the media give such short shrift to the utter insanity of the Republican platform and the medieval lunacy of those Tea Party nutters?

by Anonymousreply 1111/20/2012

I'm sure r4 meant RHINO.

by Anonymousreply 1211/20/2012

Oh sure, they hate him now, they'll get over it.

He will probably win re-election as governor and if he manages to lose weight then he'll run for the nomination in 2016.

by Anonymousreply 1311/20/2012
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