GOP establishment panics over Christie’s troubles: “I think we need Mitt back”

posted at 12:01 pm on January 17, 2014 by Allahpundit

Dude, it could happen. Three easy steps to Romney 3.0: He comes out strong for amnesty to mend fences with Latino voters; he finally decides to ix-nay the “makers and takers” etoric-rhay, and of course he chooses Mike Huckabee to be his VP. Can’t. Miss.

Seriously, though, this is just one Republican operative talking and he’s obviously joking. I think?

In interviews with more than a dozen party officials, fundraisers, and strategists in New York and Washington over the past 10 days, Republicans described a palpable sense of anxiety gripping the GOP establishment in the wake of Christie’s meltdown, and an emerging consensus that the once promising cast of candidates they were counting on to save the GOP from the Tea Party — and the nation from Hillary Clinton — is looking less formidable by the week…

“There are definitely people jumping ship,” the operative said, noting that confidence in Christie’s electability has dropped off sharply among the donors he’s heard from…

In fact, it’s gotten so bad, the operative said, that some donors have started looking back fondly on the good old days of 2012: “You know what a lot of them say to me? I think we need Mitt back.”

Not even the GOP establishment could be so badly out of tune with America that they’d consider bringing back Romneymania — I think. But the larger point, that Christie’s souring image and the fact that his lingering mutual contempt with conservatives makes him a tougher sell than thought, is apt to make country-clubbers look around for centrist alternatives now. Don’t underestimate either the lingering grudges held by prominent Romney fans towards Christie for his betrayal in 2012. Those are exactly the types of people he needs in his corner, but if you believe Politico, he’s got fences to mend himself:

Several former Romney donors and staff told POLITICO that their alumni network has been buzzing over revelations that Christie’s staff was involved in lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that caused massive traffic jams, and were allegedly politically motivated. Some view it as a vindication of Romney’s decision not to tap Christie as his running mate, while others have merely watched in amusement…

A former Romney staffer called Christie’s handling of the scandal part of a pattern of behavior by the governor. “There’s a level of arrogance that people I talk to find really just unacceptable,” the ex-staffer said, pointing to Christie’s chronic tardiness for high-dollar fundraisers he did with Romney. “Those are little things, but when you have these very important people waiting, it sends a signal.”…

In June, Christie spoke at a retreat of major Romney donors in Park City, Utah, hosted by Romney himself and sponsored by a private equity firm run by one of Romney’s sons and the finance director for his campaign, Spencer Zwick. While Christie had a private sit-down with Romney and got a standing ovation from his supporters, not everyone was ready to forgive and forget. One Romney bundler told The New York Times “there’s a large group of people in that room who are N.O.P.E. on Chris Christie — not one penny ever.”

Serious question: At what point do Republicans, including/especially establishment Republicans, start trying to dig up dirt on Christie? Right now it’s a feeding frenzy for Democrats and lefty media who want to knock him down before he builds up momentum for 2016. GOPers have held off (as far as we know), partly because they don’t want to weaken the new head of the RGA before he hits the fundraising trail and partly because Christie really might be their best shot to win in 2016. Besides, given his reputation for retaliation, Republicans who dislike him might hesitate to attack for fear that he’s still strong enough to absorb a blow and will remember their treachery if/when he’s the nominee. Maybe all of that changes, though, if he’s hit by another scandal. The donor class isn’t going to invest heavily in a guy who might blow up against Ted Cruz or Rand Paul; they have alternatives, starting with Jeb Bush. Even the ones who don’t dislike Christie have an incentive in knowing soon just how dirty his hands are.

Speaking of which, have I mentioned lately that if we end up with another Bush-versus-Clinton election I’m done voting in American elections? If we’re going to make the seat of power inheritable, let’s do it without the window dressing of democracy. Tell ’em what’s up, Barbara.

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