Can Chris Christie get back into the GOP's good graces?
For years, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been touted as a rising star in the Republican Party, with many luminaries in the conservative press having called on the Garden State's blunt-spoken executive to run for president in 2012. However, Christie has been persona non grata ever since he effusively praised President Obama for his response to Hurricane Sandy, a vital assist to Obama's campaign in the final week of the election. The images of Christie and Obama touring areas ravaged by the hurricane were splashed across cable news and the front pages of newspapers, bolstering Obama's bipartisan appeal. Now, Christie is working overtime to repair his standing within the GOP, a project that could be as daunting as reconstructing the Jersey Shore, says Michael Barbaro at The New York Times:
[B]ehind the scenes, the intensity of the reaction from those in Mr. Christie’s party caught him by surprise, interviews show, requiring a rising Republican star to try to contain a tempest that left him feeling deeply misunderstood and wounded…
[I]n the days after the storm, Mr. Christie and his advisers were startled to hear from out-of-state donors to Mr. Romney, who had little interest in the hurricane and viewed him solely as a campaign surrogate, demanding to know why he had stood so close to the president on a tarmac. One of them questioned why he had boarded Mr. Obama’s helicopter, according to people briefed on the conversations.
Barbaro reports that Christie even contacted Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, for advice on how to contain the damage. He has also "tried to frame his repeated praise of the president as a virtue," says Margaret Hartmann at New York, "saying he couldn't even think about politics during the crisis."
Christie is "a convenient scapegoat for Romney supporters," says Azi Paybarah at Capital New York, many of whom are unwilling to acknowledge that Romney lost the election for a whole host of reasons that had nothing to do with Sandy. But Republicans, still smarting from Romney's loss, aren't cutting Christie much slack. Some wounds heal with time, but "few conservatives will forget his panegyric praising of the president's 'outstanding' leadership," says Allysia Finley at The Wall Street Journal.