The chairman of the Republican National Committee is defending New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) after calls for him to step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.
Reince Priebus said Christie should not resign his post after former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli became the highest-profile Republican to call for him to step aside.
When asked whether Priebus agreed with Cuccinelli, he said, “No, not at all.”
Christie is facing criticism and declining poll numbers, after emails released earlier this month showed a top staffer was involved in a plan to close down lanes on the George Washington Bridge last year, in political retribution against a local mayor who would not endorse Christie.
Christie has apologized and fired his deputy chief of staff, maintaining he had no prior knowledge of the closure plan. The state legislature and the U.S. attorney in the state are looking into the allegations.
Separately, the mayor of Hoboken, N.J., accused Christie’s administration of threatening to hold up Hurricane Sandy relief funds unless a private development was approved. Officials named by the Hoboken mayor have said the allegation is baseless.
Cuccinelli, who lost his bid last year for Virginia governor, said it makes sense for Christie to step down so blowback from the scandal does not begin to affect other races nationwide — no matter how credible the charges are.
“He does not serve the goals of that organization by staying as chairman. And that doesn't mean any of the charges, political or otherwise, are substantive or not; it doesn't matter. Perception is reality," Cuccinelli said Tuesday evening on CNN.
Cuccinelli also asserted the scandal is still relatively new, and Christie “may well step down,” and other governors might recommend it.
“I have no idea what his thinking is on that. And he may get some counsel from some other governors along those lines," he said.
Christie was elected to head the group after his commanding reelection victory last November.