The conservative backlash against Chris Christie, and why it matters

Craig Robinson, a former Iowa GOP political director who founded the Iowa Republican news Web site, said he doesn’t think the bridge scandal will, on its own, affect the way conservatives in the first-in-the-nation caucus state view Christie. But, he added, if it’s just the first of a series of revelations and feeds a larger narrative that Christie is purely political creature, it could hurt him.

“There seems to be a lot of political calculation that goes on with him. I think that’s what going to give Iowa conservatives a lot of heartburn should he run,” Robinson said.

Here’s why the criticism and concern matters: It provides a glimpse at the tough reality Christie will have to confront in his own party as he moves toward what looks like a likely bid for president in 2016.

Since Christie won a resounding reelection victory in November, Democrats have unleashed a new round of attacks against the governor, a signal they view him as the most formidable Republican in the prospective field. But Christie is also going to have to deal with criticism from the right. And whenever he stumbles — like now — they will be there to pile on. That’s true more than ever now that Christie is a national figure.