New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's image as a cost-cutting fiscal conservative took a hit this week, after the blunt-spoken Republican indulged in a lift from a state police helicopter to his son's high school baseball game. Compounding the problem, Christie then climbed into a black limousine to ride the 100 yards from the helicopter to the field. Critics called the governor's travel arrangement "exorbitant," among other things. State police said the $2,500 trip wouldn't cost taxpayers an extra dime, claiming that pilots would have had to log the flight time anyway for training. Will that explanation fly, or will this help Democrats take down one of the GOP's rising stars?

Christie just armed Dems with a weapon: Critics are overdoing it, but "the optics are terrible," says Alana Goodman at Commentary. An unfortunate twist is that Christie jetted off after just five innings to have dinner with Iowa Republicans who are hoping to persuade him to run for the GOP presidential nomination. Christie has just handed Democrats a (easily avoided) "populist message" with which they can batter him — and it's "likely to do some damage to his image" as a financial grown-up.
"Christie should know better"

Even conservatives are mad at Christie: Democrats aren't the only ones gleefully beating up on Christie for his hypocrisy, says the Newark Star-Ledger in an editorial. "Betrayed conservatives" are livid, too. And with good reason: "While everyone else, by the governor's decree, must tighten belts and do without things — like health care for women and tax rebates for seniors" — Christie is gallivanting around in a taxpayer-funded flying limousine as if the rules of fiscal responsibility don't apply to him.
"Christie should pay for chopper ride for ballgame"

Apparently Christie really doesn't want to be president: Christie has been insisting for months that he has no plans to run for president in 2012, says Frank James at NPR. Maybe now people will believe him. "Because probably one of the last things any populist politician hoping to run for president would do, and Christie is nothing if not a populist, would be to fly in a state helicopter" to watch half a ballgame.
"Helicopter Christie really must not be running for president"