Chris Christie: "I wouldn’t call what I did an embrace of Barack Obama"

The question he’s responding to isn’t included in the clip but I think I can guess what it is. Robert Costa posted this tidbit from an anonymous Romney advisor earlier today:

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, the adviser adds, is persona non grata in Romney’s inner circle. “He went out of his way to embrace the president during the final week of the campaign,” the adviser says. “It wasn’t necessary and it hurt us. Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Chris Christie undermined the Republican message.”

On Monday, Rich Lowry was hearing grumbling about Christie too:

My understanding from checking around the last day or two — after emerging from a semi-news blackout last week — is that Christie’s robust embrace of President Obama did break through and help President Obama rebut part of Romney’s closing argument that he can work across the aisle better than the president. Yesterday, the New York Post ran an editorial begging Christie to make a strong show of support for Romney. That kind of show of support might have been particularly important to Romney (and convenient for Christie) in the Philadelphia suburbs.

That followed Politico’s mini-bombshell on Sunday quoting still more anonymous sources claiming that Christie had once been Romney’s first choice to be VP but had been passed over. I don’t believe that. I’m sure Romney considered him, if only for his virtues as an attack dog, but he’s too brash and would have overshadowed President Mitt. Romney could have gotten basically the same fiscal credibility without the loose-cannon worries from Paul Ryan, which is what he eventually did. Whoever leaked that story to Politico was, I take it, just trying to discredit Christie’s praise for Obama as sour grapes. Same with this HuffPo story published on Monday night about Christie allegedly denying Romney’s request that he come to Pennsylvania for some last-minute campaigning. Christie replied by unloading on the “know-nothing, disgruntled Romney staffers” who leaked that and said he’d spoken directly to Romney, who allegedly told him that he understood Christie needed to tend to New Jersey after the storm and was unavailable for campaign duty. And that’s where things stood in the cold war between him and Team Mitt until Costa’s piece this morning.

I’ve been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, even after he copped to weeping when Obama rewarded his Jersey photo op with a personal phone call from Bruuuuuuuce. The guy’s under a lot of strain; his home state is in ruins after the storm; he hadn’t slept much in the days before and after; and it’s only right for a governor to lay aside partisanship in a crisis and work with the president. But Ramesh Ponnuru is right about this:

Yes, he helped himself in New Jersey. I think he harmed himself pretty badly with Republicans nationally — not because he said kind words about Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy, but because he was so fulsome, because he didn’t take any opportunity to loudly reiterate his support for Romney and because he talked about crying after his hero Springsteen talked to him on the phone. The first two, Republicans will hold against him as partisans; the last one, as adults.

“Great,” “outstanding,” “great credit”: “Fulsome” is exactly the right word to describe it. Surely there was a way for the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention to say he was getting along fine with the president a week before election day without basically cutting a campaign commercial for him. To repeat a point I made in the Matthews thread, if not for the photo op with Christie and the corrupt media’s breathless coverage of it, O would have been nearly invisible during Sandy. I thought he’d get no meaningful political benefit whatsoever from looking “presidential” for a day or two afterward, but to my amazement the exit poll suggests otherwise — and it may very well not have happened if not for Christie turning it into a story. I don’t know if he really was just too tired and stressed to consider the political implications or if he was working an angle designed to boost his Democratic cred before running again for governor in New Jersey, but I think Dan McLaughlin’s right about his national ambitions now. Christie was always going to have a tough time in the primaries due to some of his departures from conservative orthodoxy and, now, because he’s a northeastern blue-state governor and we’ve been there, done that, nominee-wise, it’s even tougher for him. When you pile this on top of it, though? I suppose if Romney can overcome RomneyCare and McCain can overcome campaign finance reform, among other things, Christie can overcome a storm-related misjudgment. But listen to the Ingraham clip below (via the Daily Caller) when you’re done with the first one. Sound like a nominee in the making?

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