According to NJ.com, Christie said, “I know when you look at Washington right now, you shake your head at a president who can’t figure out how to lead, at a Congress that only 11 percent of the people in the last poll I saw approve of the job they’re doing. That’s what happens when you have someone in the executive office who is more concerned about being right than he is concerned about getting things done. But I’m not going to be that kind of leader of New Jersey.”
Substitute the words “of this country” for “of New Jersey”, you have the core of what will be Chris Christie’s 2016 stump speech. Christie is going to sell himself as the hero of Sandy who possesses the kind of leadership required to get dysfunctional Washington working again. This is the standard claim of every governor who has run for president over the past 40 years. It’s pretty basic stuff.
Christie’s comments are an obvious attempt to distance himself from his previous praise of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy. Christie praised Obama on the Today show and Morning Joe after Sandy, “The federal government’s response has been great. I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president, personally, he has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area… He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything.”
Gov. Christie has realized that he needs to play the game if he is going to win the Republican nomination in 2016, so he is trying to have it both ways. To Republican audiences, he is going to try to improve his anti-Obama cred. If he does win the GOP nomination in 2016, Christie will tout his bipartisanship after Sandy to General Election voters.
The problem with the thin line that Christie is trying to walk is that without President Obama’s leadership, he and New Jersey might be in even worse shape today. His state’s recovery from Sandy is evidence of this president’s leadership.
Christie’s attempt to kiss up to the right while totally contradicting himself on Obama’s leadership is doomed to fail. Without Barack Obama’s leadership, Chris Christie’s national political future might have been washed out to sea, and no amount of revised history is going to make Obama haters forget “the hug”.
After his little stunt today, here’s hoping that Obama gives Christie an extra long embrace the next time they meet in front of the cameras. A big warm hug from Barack would be appropriate political payback for Christie’s attempted knife in the back.