The all-hands-on-deck media strategy recalls the heyday of the 1990s Clinton scandals, when a messaging axis that ran from talk radio to the House Republican Conference blew up one real or speculated White House impropriety after another. The goal of the current Democratic onslaught is straightforward: not just to harass Christie over the current scandal, but to permanently cripple his reputation as a likable and honest political maverick, kneecapping him as a 2016 competitor in the process.
In a messaging memo last Friday — which a strategist outside the committee shared with POLITICO — the DNC urged surrogates to go for the jugular against Christie, accusing the governor of trying to make himself “the victim in the scandal” and questioning his legitimacy as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
“Chris Christie has branded himself as a straight shooter who can work across the aisle. The George Washington Bridge scandal has severely tarnished that reputation and damaged Christie’s prospects for a 2016 presidential run,” read the memo, which also asked whether GOP governors “still want him around in light of recent revelations or will he need to be replaced as head of the RGA?”
But the Democratic flak attack against Christie started much earlier. Between Dec. 10 and Jan. 8, the first time evidence of an actual scandal broke, the DNC attacked Christie over the questionable lane closures on no fewer than 11 different days. Between then and the present day, the committee has blasted out half a dozen web videos assailing Christie, the last of them blaming the governor for “Bridgegate” because “the tone is set at the top.”