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Did Chris Christie destroy Mitt Romney's new message of bipartisanship?
In the final days of the race, Romney is stressing his bipartisan credentials. But Christie's embrace of President Obama is proof that Obama can work across the aisle
 
President Obama is greeted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in October 2012, as the president traveled through the Sandy-ravaged state.
President Obama is greeted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in October 2012, as the president traveled through the Sandy-ravaged state.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Mitt Romney "once delivered partisan-tinged zingers about how President Obama takes inspiration from socialist Democrats in Europe," says Michael Barbaro at The New York Times. "There are no such traces of such barbs in the dwindling days of the race," as the GOP candidate "promises to make personal outreach to the rival party a signature of a Romney presidency." The new approach appears to be paying dividends: 47 percent of voters think Romney has a better chance of breaking Congress' partisan gridlock, compared with 37 percent for Obama, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. David Brooks at The New York Times said Romney's flip-flopping would facilitate deal-making, while The Des Moines Register and The Orlando Sentinel both endorsed Romney, arguing that bipartisan reform would be impossible under Obama because of Republican opposition in the House.

The notion that Romney would be a more successfully bipartisan president naturally infuriates liberal commentators. Rewarding Romney for Obama's stifled attempts to reach across the aisle could set a dangerous precedent, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post:

Obama ran for president promising to break the gridlock and overcome the partisanship that paralyzes Washington. But it wasn’t up to him. The minority won’t cooperate with the majority unless they see it’s in their interests. And the Republican minority didn’t see it that way...

These [newspaper] endorsements are proving Republicans right. As they show, the Republican strategy to deny the president any cooperation and make his Washington a depressing and dysfunctional place has done Obama enormous political damage. In that way, the endorsements get the situation backwards.

However, Romney's new aura of bipartisanship may have been struck a blow this week, after Republican Governor Chris Christie, a top Romney supporter, showered Obama with effusive praise for his response to Hurricane Sandy. On Wednesday, Obama and Christie toured stricken areas of New Jersey together, held joint conferences, and appeared to genuinely appreciate each other's cooperation. That visceral picture of bipartisanship, splashed across cable news channels, could hurt Romney, says Mark Halperin at TIME:

What was Mitt Romney’s closing argument? I can work across the aisle. This President has a four year record of failure, doesn’t know how to work with the other side. The symbolism of, with Chris Christie, working across the aisle, getting things done, it goes right to the heart of how Mitt Romney wanted to close this election.

Furthermore, a closer look at Romney's proposals suggests that a Romney presidency is unlikely to usher in a new era of bipartisan comity, say Jake Sherman and James Hohmann at Politico:

The likelihood of Romney and [Paul] Ryan locking arms with "good Democrats," as Romney put it this week, to solve the nation’s problems is dubious given the GOP nominee’s legislative priorities...

If Romney makes good on his pledge to roll back the health care overhaul — which he almost certainly must in some way given his insistent campaign rhetoric and likely pressure from conservatives — that will hardly foster the bipartisan atmosphere that Romney has recently lauded.

Repealing the law is a "red line" for most Democrats.

 

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