Presidential Campaign

Christie’s tiff with the New Jersey press

Chris Christie is acting like an idiot. It’s the sort of word he would use, anyway.

Wasn’t getting caught taking box-seat tickets and first-class travel as a gift from the owner of the Dallas Cowboys enough? This week after Gov. Christie (R-N.J.) gave his not remotely subtle State of the State speech in Trenton — which would traditionally be a report on the progress and challenges for the Garden State, but instead was an overt attempt to grab the spotlight by touching on national themes, problems and fixes — he left out the local press, and then insulted them by likening them to “children.” He met with national media for off-the-record sessions the way a president would before his address, but the New Jersey press didn’t make the cut. When they reported it, the governor blasted them on a New Jersey radio show called “Ask the Governor,” saying, “Could you find a group of more self-consumed people, that on a day like that they’re writing about themselves? Do you think the public cares a wit whether they got into a private meeting? And by the way, the other private meetings they’ve had with me, which they’ve had within the last month, they didn’t report on that, did they? … [T]hey didn’t, did they, because that would be fair. And God knows we wouldn’t want to be that, so listen, if they want to act like children, let them act like children. That’s the way it goes.”

{mosads}While former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) speeds forward with an early and forceful launch of a likely presidential bid, and 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney tries to do it all over again, Christie is suddenly trying to play catch up. This week he urged supporters not to worry about the crowded field, telling them there is plenty of time and lots of dough to go around, even as the press is writing about how he could easily get left out. Christie signed on with a fundraiser and started up his leadership PAC, but he has more to prove than Bush and Romney, even if he catches up in cash. Christie still has troubling baggage that will make a presidential campaign — especially against big names like Bush and/or Romney — quite difficult. Republicans are still nervous there are more shoes to drop in the “Bridgegate” scandal; we now know Christie was interrogated by federal investigators over the matter, though voluntarily; New Jersey’s credit ratings have been downgraded several times under Christie’s leadership; and he continues to pop off on people with staggering rudeness, which has also scared potential supporters away who worry he isn’t presidential material after all.

Sure, reporters in New Jersey spent a lot of time on the Bridgegate story — that’s their job. But if Christie was smart, he would make sure he gets good press in his own backyard before he takes his act on the road and tries to convince people he can win the White House.

SHOULD ROMNEY RUN AGAIN? AskAB returns Thursday, Jan. 22. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.

Tags Bridgegate Chris Christie Dallas Cowboys Jeb Bush Jerry Jones Mitt Romney New Jersey
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