Did Chris Christie kill his 2016 presidential chances?

The hard-charging governor of New Jersey was a GOP favorite, but his embrace of President Obama isn't sitting well with conservatives

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

During the GOP primary, several prominent conservatives, unhappy with the quality of their candidates, obsessively urged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to rescue them from mediocrity by jumping into the race. At the time, the blustery governor, who has a habit of berating people he doesn't agree with, was a rising star in a party itching for a candidate who could land some heavy blows on President Obama. But the GOP attitude toward Christie has changed in recent days, after he heaped praise on Obama for his response to Hurricane Sandy. Christie wouldn't be the first Republican to go down in flames after embracing Obama — a literal hug from Charlie Crist made the former Florida governor dead to the GOP. Did Christie kill his 2016 chances?

Yes. He'll be blamed if Obama wins: "What a difference an embrace makes," says Matt K. Lewis at The Daily Caller. Only last year, Republicans were "clamoring for him to run for president," but "should Obama win on Tuesday, Christie would surely be tagged for at least contributing to Romney's defeat. What is more, there are plenty of videos, tweets, and photos that Christie's Republican rivals can now pull out when necessary to remind" Republicans of his betrayal.

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And he'll never survive a GOP primary: "If Christie thinks he has a snowball's chance of being the Republican nominee, he is delusional," says Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect. "Republicans will never forgive Christie for this act of high treason." Indeed, "Christie has a better shot at being appointed by Obama to head FEMA" than becoming the GOP's standard-bearer.

"Chris Christie's sly, futile move"

But if Romney loses, Christie can pounce: Rush Limbaugh, the id of right-wing conservative anger, has already "called the governor 'fat' and 'a fool,'" says Ewen MacAskill at Britain's The Guardian. But if Romney loses the election, Republicans "might just decide to move to the center, and that is where Christie has positioned himself, to the left of the present-day Republican Party." Furthermore, Christie has "emerged as the public face of the storm: Energetic, emotional, and efficient, a seemingly permanent presence on television screens over the last few days." Sandy has turned him into a "national figure."

"Chris Christie sparks speculation at political center of the storm"

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