It’s come to this.

Now that the Marco Rubio train has left the station, claiming an early hold on the establishment lane, the rest of the contenders for that dubious honor are going all in for a second or third place finish in New Hampshire to prevent the Florida senator from running the table on them. One candidate with the most to lose or gain seems to be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He’s put pretty much all of his eggs in the Granite State basket and if he can’t show some serious signs of life there he’ll probably be out of the race by next Wednesday. So what will his opponents attack him on? Shockingly, he seems to think that he needs to keep defending himself against the infamous “Obama hug” during the Hurricane Sandy recovery, just as the last presidential race was coming down to the wire.

Christie’s take on the scandal? It never happened. (Time)

“The old, ‘nobody-ever-saw-it-because-it-didn’t-happen hug,’” Christie said at a town hall at the Milford Fire Department. “You hear about this all the time, so let’s talk about it.”…

“A hug with the president,” Christie said. Yeah, no, I’ve got to tell you, I can’t disappoint you all enough, I didn’t hug him. And as you all have learned in New Hampshire, I hug everybody. So it was a disappointment probably for him that I didn’t hug him.”

Christie acknowledged that he had shook Obama’s hand. “When he got off Air Force One, I did shake his hand, which I’ll tell you what, civilized human beings do with other civilized human beings,” he said.

As we jointly stifle our gag reflex against the idea of dredging something like this up from history yet again, I’ll say that Christie does at least have some ammunition on his side to make the argument. Last summer, while the story was percolating for the umpteenth time, he actually got an on-air apology from Greta Van Susteren who had accused him of the same thing. (NJ.com)

Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday received an on-air apology from Greta Van Susteren, the host of a Fox News Channel program, for the governor’s so-called embrace of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy…

“You know, I looked at it last night and I said, ‘That’s no hug,’ and I gotta say I’m sorry about the hug,” she told Christie.

The governor responded: “Well thank you Greta, I appreciate that, and you know what, it’s a handshake, as you can see, and I think that’s what civilized people do when someone comes to your state to offer help. You shake their hand and you welcome them, which is what I did.”

The real question, in the end, was whether or not Christie should have met with Obama at all, not what form of hug, handshake, high five or fist bump they gave each other. And that question is pretty silly. New Jersey was a disaster area and the POTUS tends to go to such places as part of allocating emergency management funds. Does a President need to go to these sites? No… but they do. And when they do, the Governor meets with them for the requisite photo op to show the people that the government is on top of the situation. It’s a pointless exercise in political posturing, but it’s sort of baked into the cake at this point. And when they meet they greet each other.

But back to the vexing question of the day. When is a hug not a hug? Take a look for yourselves.

HugGate2

I’ll let you make up your own minds since I already have my answer: there are much bigger things to criticize the New Jersey Governor on as a potential nominee than this. We could spend all day just talking about his gun control record. I won’t lose any sleep over the Hug-Gate.

One of the two photos originally included was from after Hurricane Irene, not Sandy, and has been removed. The remaining photo is from after Sandy.