President Obama toured parts of the Jersey Shore with Chris Christie on Tuesday, rekindling an unlikely bromance that began when the Democratic president and New Jersey's Republican governor worked together on Hurricane Sandy relief last year. Political strategists said the visit gave Obama an opportunity to shift attention from a flurry of scandals in Washington toward a bipartisan cause — disaster relief. But the meeting risked renewing the anger of Republicans, some of whom were furious at Christie for praising Obama when the two teamed up last year, shortly before the November election.
Christie even won the president a stuffed Teddy bear this time around by tossing a football through a tire at a boardwalk arcade booth. So what did Christie get out of the outing? Reuven Fenton and S.A. Miller at the New York Post explain that Christie, who's running for another term next year, couldn't lose by making nice with a president who's popular with New Jersey's voters.
Christie didn't walk away empty-handed. He got a prized photo-op with Obama that likely will boost his re-election campaign in his solidly Democratic state. [New York Post]
And that's not all. Alex Pareene notes at Salon that Christie was helping not just himself but the GOP brand by showing that there are pragmatic, Republican reformers out there who care more about getting results than scoring cheap partisan points at every turn. "People who vote Republican but don't consider themselves crazy right-wingers are desperate to vote for this type of Republican," Pareene says:
Chris Christie cozying up to Barack Obama makes it more likely that a Republican will remain the governor of (large, liberal) New Jersey. It makes it more likely that a Republican wins a New Jersey Senate seat in 2014. It also makes it more likely that a Republican is elected president in 2016, as long as that Republican makes it through the primaries. It may not, in all these cases, be the perfect Republican, but an imperfect Republican is always better, for the interests behind the Republican Party, than a Democrat. [Salon]
Of course, there's another benefit in this for Christie: It was a high-profile opportunity to demonstrate that he's not afraid to resist pressure and do what he thinks is right. David Freedlander at The Daily Beast cautions that too much of this kind of thing could, eventually, hurt Christie's political future in the GOP, although he says it appears to be working in Christie's favor for now:
Part of the appeal of Christie, and what makes him such a unique figure in American politics, is his deserved image as a straight-from-the-hip truth-teller. Embracing Obama in the waning days of the 2012 race was in character. Ignoring the complainers and doing it again was even more. [Daily Beast]
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