I feel for New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie.
He is trying to juggle competing roles: as a budding GOP superstar and as someone who’s committed the cardinal sin in right-wing circles by saying nice things about Democratic President Obama near the end of a hotly contested presidential election campaign.
Christie is running for re-election as Garden State governor. He’s apparently facing a challenge from the lunatic fringe of his party because he had high praise for the president in the wake of the federal response to Superstorm Sandy, which pummeled the Jersey Shore right before the election.
Obama went to Jersey, toured the devastation, comforted heartbroken residents and declared that the White House was operating on what he called “the 15-minute rule.” White House aides are to respond within 15 minutes of any call from the affected area “and we’re going to find a way to say ‘yes,’” Obama said.
That was music to Christie’s ears. And he said so … many times.
That’s what reportedly has angered some within his party.
But what’s the problem? Christie was concerned first with his constituents. He reached out for federal assistance and POTUS himself answered the call. Both men were doing their jobs – not as partisans but as responsible elected officials charged with caring for those who depend on government to help them in times of distress.
Should the governor win re-election next year – and a big part of me hopes he does – he’ll be positioned to run for president in 2016, if that’s his desire. But the tea party cabal within his party has demonstrated an annoying talent for running competent Republicans out of office (see Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana and former Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, to cite just two prominent examples).
Watch your back, governor.